Here come the fractional leaders

7 advantages of short-term leadership

By Kevin MacIntyre

SeasonedPros Content Lab

You may not have heard the term fractional leadership just yet, but you probably will. 

Fractional leaders are executives who step into C-suite and senior leadership roles on a part-time or interim basis to help an organization with a challenge. 

They are often former executives or consultants who specialize in the leadership of strategy, marketing, organizational management, finances, IT or HR. 

They can help a small organization scale up or a large enterprise change direction to adapt to new economic circumstances.

Leadership in a fraction of the time and cost

Fractional leaders bring years of experience and expertise to an organizational problem and solve it in a fraction of the time. They also do this at a fraction of the cost of a full-time leader.

Rapid changes in the economy and business environments have made fractional leadership hires attractive to organizations which are now coping with talent shortages and gaps in new types of expertise.

The exit of senior leaders from full-time positions has produced a rich source of freelance talent, many of whom still want to work but not necessarily on a full-time basis.

New challenges require fresh ideas

Organizations are facing new challenges brought about by tectonic shifts in culture and economy. The pandemic changed the game for business, markets and talent with new technologies implemented for remote work and the rapid adoption of digital models.

Demographic trends have resulted in a mass exodus of senior leadership talent. Sometimes referred to as The Great Resignation, this trend has left voids of knowledge at the top of many organizations. 

Cultural forces have also changed the game for business. Organizations are now retooling to integrate more diversity, equality and inclusion in their ranks and leadership. 

There is an increased focus on corporate sustainability as the world grapples with climate change and customers demand attention to ecological solutions. Companies are implementing policies to reduce their carbon footprint.

7 advantages of fractional leadership

A fractional leader can respond quickly to a dynamic situation, take on a project and help an organization achieve its business goals. There are several advantages to this interim leadership model:

  1. Focus – A fractional leader can put their “whole mind” to one problem without the distraction of multiple challenges faced by traditional leadership. This focus allows the leader to prioritize problem-solving and work with greater efficiency and speed.
  2. Subject matter expertise – Fractional leaders can be selected based on deep knowledge in certain areas. For example, an organization that requires an environmental sustainability strategy can hire a fractional leader with experience in this area.
  3. Innovation – Because they are outsourced, the fractional leader can introduce fresh ideas which can produce creative “collisions” and new directions for an organization. This innovation could include everything from new products, branding strategies, and different ways of doing things.
  4. Transitional leadership – Continuity is critical when a senior leader exits the organization for whatever reason. Employees, clients, suppliers and other stakeholders need to know that someone is at the helm to navigate the change. A strong fractional leader bridges the gap between the previous leadership and the next one.
  5. Outside the business culture – A fractional leader is not tethered by the history, personalities and influence of business culture. They can see through dynamics and identify the pain points with clarity. This enables them to identify pathways for change management, allowing an organization to pivot quickly, adapt and grow with new economic realities.
  6. Small- and medium-sized businesses – Smaller organizations may not be ready to hire full-time but require expertise for a product launch or a special event. Fractional leaders are a cost-efficient solution to carry out a project without incurring the costs of a permanent hire.
  7. Crisis management – sometimes an organization faces an unanticipated challenge which requires a rapid response to guide it through a difficult time. A fractional leader can hit the ground running and apply sharp focus and expertise to the issue.

Fractional leadership will be a valuable tool for organizations as they navigate through unprecedented business changes and challenges.

SeasonedPros.ca is an on-demand business talent source. Clients with an immediate need for experienced talent trust us to source professionals for project, interim and part-time roles. Each professional in our national database has 20+  years of business experience. We provide our clients two-four vetted professionals in 10 business days or less

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