Hiring or Working as an Interim CEO

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    What is an Interim CEO?

    Basically, an interim CEO is an executive that is hired by the corporation’s Board of Directors (for-profit or nonprofit) as a temporary person to fill that role until a permanent replacement is hired.

    One reason for hiring an interim CEO is because that person suddenly left that role due to serious illness or death. Concurrently, the organization did not have sufficient succession planning to deal with that crisis. Another reason is that the CEO had to take a leave of absence, which had a high likelihood that the person would be returning in a matter of months, for example, less than a year. Yet another reason is that the Board has decided that the organization needs a different set of skills in the CEO role. For example, the organization might need to undergo a major change and needs a CEO will strong skills in guiding successful change, and it is clear that the current CEO does not have — or cannot soon develop — those skills.

    It should be noted that the vast majority of information about interim CEOs is applicable to both for-profit and nonprofit corporations. Major differences between organizations depend on the current life stage of the organization, its culture, and its current strategic priorities — much more than differences between their missions. For example, a small nonprofit is much more like a small for-profit than a large nonprofit. Key differences between the role of CEO in a for-profit compared to a nonprofit might be more in regard to whether the for-profit is a publicly listed business and, thus, has strong priorities about satisfying shareholders.

    The following articles give basic definitions of the role of an interim CEO.

    Hiring an Interim CEO

    The hiring of an interim CEO has most of the considerations of hiring a permanent CEO — and more. The candidate should be readily available to hire and ideally have somewhat similar experience in a somewhat similar industry and organization. He or she also needs to successfully work in a temporary situation, which means quickly establishing and maintaining successful working relationships with key stakeholders, for example, Board members, employees, and significant representatives among external constituents. The person also needs strong skills in transition management, including to lessen any impact of the previous CEO’s leaving and a new permanent CEO replacing the interim. These skills need to be successfully utilized by others who know that the person in the interim role will not be around for the long term.

    Working as an Interim CEO

    Whether you are hiring an interim or considering being one, the following articles will give you more perspective on the role, and how the person in it will likely work with others in and around the organization.

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