Top 5 Tips to Be Successful in an Interim Leadership Position in North Carolina

It’s relatively common for leadership to change hands within an organization, whether at the executive or C-suite level, management, department heads, or any other type of leader. And sometimes, rather than finding a new permanent executive right away, a company will install an interim professional instead.  

Whether you’re about to take on your next interim challenge or you’ve just been promoted into an interim role after the departure of another leader, it’s up to you to help the organization navigate the change and stay on track. And that can be easier said than done.  

Not every interim leader’s goal is to turn their temporary position into a permanent one. But whether you’re hoping to turn your next interim job into a permanent role or not, your reputation depends on how well you do your job during this critical stage. 

Let’s look at five tips from an interim recruitment agency in North Carolina that can help interim talent be successful:

 

#1: Have an Open Mind and Do Your Research 

Although an interim position isn’t exactly like taking on a new job in the typical sense, you should treat it as such. Go in with an open mind – don’t set any expectations about the company or the teams you work with because you won’t know everything until you get acclimated. Be open to different office cultures, approaches to work, processes, and more. A big part of being a good interim leader is accepting ambiguity. Know that you’ll probably start the assignment without knowing all the required deliverables, without knowing everything about each team working under you, and maybe not even knowing all of the company’s goals for your tenure. 

With all, you should still do your due diligence and know everything you can about the position you’re taking and the company you’ll be working for. Do your research and make it extensive. Find out all you can about the company’s history, mission, vision, and values, and learn why your predecessor left the role and what you’ll be expected to accomplish during your time there.  

This combination of knowledge and open-mindedness sets you up for success as you begin your next interim position.  

#2: Be Approachable 

Think back to the bosses you’ve had throughout your career. What aspects did you like the most? The least? What worked to motivate teams, and what tended to backfire? Using your firsthand knowledge of what makes a great leader is a real asset to you in your interim leadership career.  

You must be approachable as an interim executive. You’re already coming into what could be a somewhat sensitive situation, especially if your predecessor was let go. Even if they weren’t, it could be a bit of an odd situation – you and the teams under you know that you’ll likely only be there for a temporary period, not permanently. That’s why being kind, understanding, and approachable is so important.  

Give yourself time to get to know the people you’ll be working with, including other leaders and support staff. Watch your tone and body language – be authoritative, but never cold or demanding. No one likes a brand-new leader coming in and acting as if they know all there is to know about the company and the work that needs to be done.  

#3: Devote Yourself to the Role 

 As mentioned above, you know going into the role that it’s probably not permanent. And everyone else at the company knows that, too. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fully commit. On the contrary, devote yourself to the job as if it was one you were taking on permanently. That’s what you’ve been hired to do, after all. 

Some interim professionals shy away from making ties with the people they work with in these temporary capacities, but that can do more harm than good. Remember that the essence of the job of the interim leader is to come in, take on a leadership role as seamlessly as possible, and make a difference. Will you really be able to do that if you don’t connect with the people around you? No.  

#4: Gain Tips and Insight from the Staff 

You may have noticed a theme running through most of the tips above: Relying on the staff, you’ll be working within your new role as an interim leader. Isolating yourself from them, or simply ordering them around, is not the approach to take. They’ve worked here longer than you have – they know how things work, and they know how things ought to be done. That’s not to say that you can’t come in with innovative ideas and ways to make things better. But you should listen to the staff working underneath you and gain critical insights from them.  

As interim leader, you’ll focus much of your time and effort on larger, big-picture issues. Staying on budget throughout the quarter, for example, or streamlining a department’s output to maximize efficiency. But it’s not a bad idea to focus on a few more minor, everyday issues as well. If you can fix a small issue that’s been plaguing the team, it fosters trust – and a bond with the staff you have working for you.  

#5: Stay Focused on the Bigger Picture 

Regarding the bigger picture – remember that it’s exactly why you’re there. It’s to steer the ship, to serve as a beacon by which the rest of the company is guided. Stay laser-focused on that and work on doing your job well rather than getting bogged down in office politics or personnel disputes. You’re not there to be a babysitter or serve as the HR department. There are people whose job is to resolve those issues, but you should be focused on something bigger. Train yourself not to get roped into things that shouldn’t concern you, and remember to delegate when necessary. 

Of course, there are exceptions to this. Perhaps you’ve been brought on to turn the company culture around. In a case like this, it might be prudent or even necessary to delve into office politics to a degree. The point is not to get involved when you don’t have to or when it doesn’t concern your objectives. Adding to office drama or gossip will only tarnish the trust your new employees have in you.  

Connect with an Interim Recruitment Agency in North Carolina 

Are you searching for an interim leadership role with a great company? Your executive job search in North Carolina can be streamlined with the help of an experienced executive recruiter with knowledge of the market and what leaders like you are looking for.  

Career Foundations is the interim recruitment agency in North Carolina to turn to when you’re ready to take on your next leadership challenge. Our professional job placement services span key practice areas like corporate accounting and finance, compliance, audit and tax, human resources and corporate administration, corporate marketing and digital communication, and executive leadership.  

Looking for career opportunities in North Carolina? Connect with Career Foundations today!