Interim Leadership: Can You Hire a Temporary CEO?

Hiring an interim CEO can be a smart short-term strategy for businesses facing a transition. When there is a need to fill a CEO or top executive role quickly, hiring an interim CEO can provide stability and support during times of change. They can help manage specific projects, implement necessary changes, and bring valuable skills and experience to guide the business through a crisis. In this article, we will explore the reasons to hire a temporary CEO and the benefits they can bring to your company.

Key Takeaways:

  • Interim leadership is a strategic move for businesses during transitions.
  • Hiring a temporary CEO provides stability and support during times of change.
  • An interim CEO can help manage projects, implement changes, and guide the business through a crisis.
  • The benefits of hiring an interim CEO include valuable skills and experience.
  • This article will explore the reasons to hire a temporary CEO and the benefits they bring to a company.

When Should You Hire an Interim CEO?

There are several scenarios where hiring an interim CEO is beneficial. For businesses in need of a fast turnaround, hiring an interim CEO can initiate a transformation plan and quickly address the issues at hand. They bring a fresh perspective to analyse the company’s strengths and weaknesses, and implement management strategies to drive fast results and improve underperforming businesses.

In cases where the previous CEO was problematic or incompetent, an interim CEO can help regain trust and steer the business back on track. With their experience in change management, they can assess the situation, identify areas of improvement, and implement necessary changes to restore confidence in the company’s direction.

If a company has made an acquisition or is entering a new market, hiring an interim CEO can provide immediate leadership while internal talent is being developed. They can navigate through new market conditions, leverage their expertise to drive growth, and ensure a smooth transition during periods of change.

Lastly, unexpected CEO departures can leave a company in a vulnerable position. Finding a new executive leader can take 6-12 months. Therefore, hiring an interim CEO can provide stability and breathing space for the company to find a permanent replacement without rushing the process. The interim CEO can step in, manage day-to-day operations, and provide leadership until a suitable candidate is found.

The Strategic Wins: How to Hire a CEO on an Interim Basis

Hiring an interim CEO offers numerous strategic benefits to your business. In today’s fast-paced business environment, time is of the essence, and the process of hiring a permanent CEO can often take months. By hiring an interim CEO, you can ensure stability during times of change and leverage their expertise to solve organisational challenges.

An interim CEO brings a fresh perspective and independent thinking to your company, offering valuable insights into finding the right permanent CEO. This allows you to try out different leadership styles without making a long-term commitment.

Here are some of the key business benefits of hiring an interim CEO:

  1. Stability: An interim CEO provides stability and guidance during times of transition, ensuring that your business continues to operate smoothly.
  2. Expertise: Interim CEOs bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, allowing them to quickly assess your organisation’s challenges and implement effective solutions.
  3. Fresh Perspective: With their external perspective, interim CEOs can offer new ideas and innovative approaches to help drive your business forward.
  4. Try Out Leadership Styles: Hiring an interim CEO gives you the opportunity to test different leadership styles and find the one that aligns best with your company’s goals and values.

By hiring an interim CEO, you can position your business for success during times of change and transition. They bring stability, expertise, and a fresh perspective that can help you navigate challenges and drive growth. Don’t miss out on the strategic advantages that hiring an interim CEO can provide.

Business Benefits of Hiring an Interim CEO
Stability
Expertise
Fresh Perspective
Try Out Leadership Styles

Acting vs Interim CEO: What’s the Best Approach?

When faced with a temporary vacancy in the CEO position, it may be tempting to appoint an internal candidate as an acting CEO. However, this approach can have its limitations. Acting CEOs often already have their own set of responsibilities within the company and may not have the capacity to effectively handle both roles simultaneously. This can result in a lack of focus and potential impact on the company’s growth and direction.

On the other hand, hiring a full-time interim CEO can provide a more dedicated leadership approach during the transitional period. With no other existing responsibilities, an interim CEO can solely focus on maintaining momentum, making strategic decisions, and ensuring the company’s success. This ensures that the business is in the hands of a leader who has the time and resources to fully commit to the role.

The opportunity cost of appointing an acting CEO instead of hiring an interim CEO is the potential impact on the company’s long-term commitment to growth. Having an interim CEO with the necessary expertise and experience can bring stability and direction to the business during the transition. They can provide valuable insights and guidance, minimising any disruptions and maximising the potential for success.

Related reading: How much does it cost to hire a CEO?

In conclusion, while appointing an acting CEO may seem like a convenient choice for a temporary vacancy, hiring a full-time interim CEO offers a more effective approach. By providing dedicated leadership and allowing the company to maintain its momentum, hiring an interim CEO mitigates the potential risks associated with relying on an already busy internal candidate. The opportunity cost of not hiring an interim CEO could be a missed opportunity for long-term commitment, growth, and success.

Acting vs Interim CEO: A Comparison

CriteriaActing CEOInterim CEO
ResponsibilitiesDivided between current role and CEO dutiesFocused solely on CEO responsibilities and decision-making
Time CommitmentPart-time dedicationFull-time commitment to driving company success
ExpertiseLimited experience in CEO roleExtensive experience and expertise in interim leadership
ContinuityPotential disruption to growth and directionProvides stability and continuity during transitional period
Opportunity CostImpact on long-term commitment and potential growthEnsures business continuity and maximises potential for success

Types of Interim Executives

When hiring interim executives, companies have various options depending on their specific needs and goals. Interim executives are experienced professionals who assume temporary leadership roles in organisations for a period typically ranging from 2 to 12 months. Here are the different types of interim executives:

  1. Interim-to-Hire Executives: These executives are brought in immediately to provide leadership while the company searches for a permanent solution. They bring stability and expertise to help steer the organisation through a transitional period.
  2. Fractional Executives: Fractional executives take on long-term roles but work on a part-time basis. They provide specialised skills and expertise in specific areas without the need for a full-time commitment. This allows companies to access valuable talent while optimising costs.
  3. Project Executives: Project executives bring unique expertise to solve specific problems or manage particular projects. They have a targeted focus and deliver measurable results within a defined scope.

Companies can choose the type of interim executive that aligns with their specific needs and objectives. Whether it’s a short-term leadership gap, the need for specialised skills, or project management requirements, interim executives offer flexibility and a high level of expertise to support businesses during periods of transition.

Related reading: Can interim CEO become CEO?

Conclusion

Hiring a temporary CEO through an interim leadership approach can be a strategic move for businesses undergoing a transition. Interim CEOs bring stability, expertise, and a fresh perspective to help navigate through challenges and drive the company forward. Understanding when to hire an interim CEO and recognising the benefits they can bring allows businesses to make informed decisions during times of change.

The hiring process involves identifying the specific needs of the company, evaluating the qualifications of interim candidates, and finding the right fit for the interim CEO role. This careful evaluation ensures that the temporary CEO aligns with the organisation’s goals and can lead effectively.

Overall, hiring a temporary CEO can provide valuable support and guidance during a time of transition. Their interim leadership can facilitate a smooth business transition, make strategic moves, and contribute to the long-term success of the company. By leveraging the expertise of temporary CEOs, businesses can navigate through challenges and emerge stronger than before. 

If you think an interim CEO might be right for you, get in touch via the contact form to see how Boardroom Advisors can help you.

FAQ

What are the benefits of hiring an interim CEO?

Hiring an interim CEO provides stability, expertise, and a fresh perspective during times of change. They can solve organisational challenges, offer insights on finding the right permanent CEO, and provide temporary leadership while internal talent is being developed.

When should I hire an interim CEO?

Hiring an interim CEO is beneficial in cases of fast turnarounds, underperforming businesses, change management during an acquisition or entering new market conditions, and in the event of an unexpected CEO departure.

What are the advantages of hiring an interim CEO over an acting CEO?

Hiring an interim CEO provides a dedicated leader who can maintain momentum, make strategic decisions, and ensure the company’s success during a transitional period. Acting CEOs often have existing responsibilities and may not have the capacity to handle both roles effectively.

What types of interim executives are available?

There are different types of interim executives available based on the specific needs of a company. These include interim-to-hire executives, fractional executives who work part-time, and project executives who bring unique expertise to solve specific problems or manage projects.

How do I hire an interim CEO?

The hiring process involves identifying the specific needs of the company, evaluating the qualifications of interim candidates, and finding the right fit for the interim CEO role. It is important to consider the experience, skills, and expertise required to lead the business during the transition.

Can an interim CEO help with change management and business transition?

Yes, an interim CEO can act as a catalyst for accelerating change and ensuring that your organisation meets important milestones and deadlines. They can analyse where the problems lie, implement necessary changes, and help your company move forward with speed and confidence.

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran seven of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.