Interim Leadership: More Gain, Less Pain

A recent assignment as interim executive director for a mid-sized non-profit confirmed my experience that engaging an interim executive director or CEO during times of transition results in a more successful permanent hire and a more productive organization.

Finding the right permanent non-profit leader has never been more difficult. The expansion of responsibilities and the growing complexity of leadership positions continues while the retirement of the current leadership cohort means the number of qualified candidates is shrinking. Boards of Directors can underestimate the time and expense involved in locating and bringing new leaders into their organizations.

It is tempting for conscientious Board members to wish to provide stability by stepping into the vacancy or appointing a senior staff member to oversee the ED’s responsibilities. However, these two options may cause further disruption as the day-to-day demands of the ED’s job overtake other duties or cause conflict between the distinct roles of staff members and voluntary leaders.

The benefit of experienced stable leadership also outweighs the cost of interim fees. Interim leaders ensure the organization’s work continues unabated allowing Directors to focus on recruitment. This limits the expenses associated with lengthy hiring processes or hasty, unsuccessful recruitment efforts.
Experienced interim leaders provide experienced day-to-day leadership and allow the Board ample time to search for the best permanent executive director or CEO. We hit the ground running and step out at the right time while ensuring a smooth transition for the new permanent hire.

As a consultant with The Osborne Group, I’m happy to report that our clients think we do a pretty good job of it. In The Osborne Group’s most recent client survey clients rated us 100% on six factors including the quality of our advice, effective implementation and how we meet their needs.

So if your organization needs to take some time to find the right permanent ED or CEO, contact me at The Osborne Group at 416.822.7740 or send me a note at lwhite [at]

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(This post was originally written for The Osborne Group blog . Lots of useful reading there!)

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