Daily Business Ledger

Making the case for using interim executives

By: Donald Bielinski, SMB Operating Partners – Aug. 16, 2011

Many small and mid-sized businesses continue to struggle to keep their heads above water and move their business on to the next successful growth phase. We have faced one of the most severe recessions in history and now contend with anemic economic growth. We are facing unprecedented challenges that demand experienced leadership at the top. Having the right CEO is more critical than ever.

Unfortunately, making a change at the top is often frightening and many businesses wait until it is too late. The reasons run the gambit: "Maybe things will be better tomorrow"; "We don't have anyone internally that can step in"; "An executive search is costly and takes months". Inaction is often the worse case option. There is an alternative that can introduce the right experienced leadership at almost a moments notice: utilizing an Interim Executive.

Interim Executives are industry and functionally experienced top-tier business leaders. They likely have seen and solved your type of strategic or operational challenge many times during their careers. Their job is to assess the business challenge at hand and execute the decisions necessary to achieve stability and growth. The Interim Executive can immediately step into a CEO vacancy or act in the capacity of a mentor/advisor for a CEO that needs assistance to ensure a problem is solved quickly and correctly. Typical assignments are executed in a period of 4 to 6 months.

Interim Executives allow for businesses to receive the specialized leadership necessary during a tough transition period. They can play the "bad cop", if necessary, with an objective results driven approach that focuses on optimizing business outcomes without the impediment of political baggage.

During his or her assignment, the Interim Executive is solely concerned with solving the problem at hand. He or she provides a variable cost alternative without being a threat to the careers of existing management. During his or her stint with the business, the search for the new CEO (if necessary) can be completed without compromising time or quality. The new CEO or mentored CEO will be able to be perceived as the hero shepherding in the post crisis 'good times'.

Choosing to bring a top-tier crisis-management leader in for the solving phase is analogous to having a brain surgeon remove a tumor from your brain, rather than your primary care physician. With the option for a specialist at hand, why wouldn't you capitalize on the opportunity and trust you'll have a fast successful recovery?

By: Donald Bielinski of Hawthorn Woods - Managing Partner of SMB Operating Partners: experts in Change Leadership, providing clients with experienced high performance, C-level interim executives to carry out time-intensive assignments in a wide range of businesses. For more information, please visit or call 312-924-1547