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Leadership On Demand


“How Smart CEOs Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue”

By Charles Besondy and Paul Travis

“Filling The Performance Vacuum”

“A Definition of Interim Management”:


“Smart CEOs are not letting gaps in critical skill-set and bandwidth slow down their company’s performance or limit the opportunities it takes on. That’s because they’ve learned to add interim executive to their resource arsenal.” Page 6

“This book explores how and why business leaders are waking up to the potential of deploying interim managers in sales and marketing. The wise use of Interim Leadership on the revenue side enables businesses to maintain a high level of business performance.” Page 7

“One early –warning signal that an interim management solution is warranted within your company is when you start rationalising why opportunities can’t be addressed, or objectives not achieved”. Page 10

“The interim leader can give the company the “shot in the arm” it needs, elevate the skill-level of the permanent employees in the marketing department and leave when the event has passed.” Page 11

“When a gap exists in a leadership position the company’s performance is handicapped. This is an ideal time to have an interim manager fill the position and maintain momentum while the recruitment process for a permanent executive progresses.” Page 12

“When a company has a gap in a key position, it must calculate the opportunity cost for the 3-6 months it’ll take to fill that position. The cost is almost always greater than the fee for an interim manager to fill the gap.”– William Lake, CEO, Apogee Search, Page 12

“The fresh insight and perspective, combined with objectivity not hindered by internal pressures and politics can be just the type of catalyst you need.” Page 13 and 14

“I consider using an interim manager for those times when objective guidance, unburdened by internal bias, is at a premium. Developing a pricing strategy is a good example.”–David Altounian, CEO, iTaggit.com, Page 14

“For a growing number of companies, on-demand executives are smart alternatives to permanent hires and consulting firms. Page 14

On Demand Leadership In The Small or Early-Stage Organisation

There is a “perfect case” for interim management in startups, given a confluence of factors:
1. Generalists vs. Specialists
2. Limited capital and unlimited demands for expertise
3. Even faster dynamics in the startup marketplace
4. The tug: time to markets, sales growth, and control

“Limited capital and unlimited demands for expertise”:

“It is the rare start-up company that is not bedeviled by very thin capital budgets but infinite demands for high-level expertise. Hiring interim talent gives an early stage company the access they need on a variable-cost basis.” Page 19

“There was no way I could afford to hire someone permanently at that level, (but by tapping into an interim firm) it was a windfall of knowledge for a very reasonable price. It was a perfect fit.”—Jim Grogan, CEO, Loreto Bay Development Company, Page 19

“In the words of start-ups and small companies, having access to the depth, breadth and scope of an interim’s expertise, without having to hire someone full time, is a big plus.” Page 19

“You want someone who is bold enough to propose the right solutions! Interims with expertise take pride in launching the new thing, whereas employees look at promotions and job security. A start-up needs subject matter expertise as well as structure (discipline, program management). Interims get to the point, and bring you creativity.”—Alfred den Besten, former of Marketing, Avaya Western Europe, Page 22

 On Demand Leadership in the Large Organisation

“Large companies are constantly challenged to find their right organisational structure to foster innovation, achieve competitiveness and create customers. The strategic use of on-demand leaders (interim managers) in sales and marketing gives large, highly-structured companies a means to be nimble and quick.” Page 24

“Multiple layers of management”:

“At the risk of sounding trite, the more managers a company has, the higher the incidence of transition. At any given time there are going to be multiple vacancies caused by leave of absence, termination, retirement, promotion, re-assignment, etc.” Page 25

“You’ll be surprised to see that during a 12-month period many key positions, important cogs in the revenue gears of your company, were missing- many for months on end.” Page 26

“Interim managers are ideal solutions to round out project teams.” Page 26

“Numerous Product Lines and Markets”:

“Interim managers in marketing or sales can function as the experts in the “now”. They can provide critical insight to product teams who are heavily influenced (and biased) by the past. Unlike consultants who might provide a futuristic perspective, interims are in the office, doing the work. Even a temporary infusion of current skills and knowledge can make a difference in the longevity of a product or brand.” Page 27

“Interims give companies the flexibility to staff up during peak times.” Page 28
“The use of interim management in Europe and the U.K. is very common and the talent pool is wide and deep.” Page 28

“The use of just-in-time managers can enable a U.S. company to quickly set up shop in other countries compared to recruiting local managers to join ‘foreign’ company”. Page 28

“Because of the sheer volume of products and markets addressed by a large company, the opportunities for leveraging interim talent in the large organisation are significant.” Page 28

“Managers as well-rounded generalists”:

“When management stars are being groomed as generalists, interims can provide the infusion of specialized skills and knowledge.” Page 29

“Frequent re-organisations”:

“In times of transition, gaps emerge. On-demand leaders can fill those gaps so that momentum is never lost.” Page 30

“By nature of their size and complexity, large companies have perpetual need for on-demand leadership in sales and marketing functions. Forward-thinking organisations will form alliances with leading interim providers in order to have a ready source of just-in-time executives.” Page 32

Tips for Scoping the Engagement

 “Defining the scope of an interim engagement is the single most important step an executive can take to ensure a successful outcome.” Page 38

“The engagement scope is a blueprint for the project’s formal agreement between the interim leader and your organisation. It concisely defines the: who, what, where, when, why, how and cost of the engagement. Most of the burden of documenting the scope should fall on the interim manager.” Page 38

“Loss of opportunity and loss of business momentum can have huge ramifications for your organisation. Be realistic and honest with yourself about the risks and the costs.” Page 39

 “Define the day to day responsibilities and parameters”:

“In short, the interim executive functions just like a regular senior manager in the company. In comparison, most consulting projects don’t involve the same degree of collaboration, interaction, or on-site presence. As a result, the scope and description for an interim management engagement have considerations a consulting project may not. It’s helpful to think about these considerations as if you were writing a job description for the position the interim is filling.” Page 42

Don’t overlook the orientation phase and transition phase”:

“How an interim engagement is started and finished has a lot to do with its success.” Page 44

Socialising the Engagement

“Next to properly defining the scope of an engagement, nothing contributes to the success of an interim assignment more than properly socialising it throughout the organisation.” Page 50

“Explaining the interim’s role to the organisation is usually the responsibility of the CEO or other senior executive, such as the COO. All constituents must be considered for socializing.” Page 50

“The interim manager’s peer group”:

“Always involve the management team in the decision-making process and establish a level of understanding prior to engaging with an interim leader.” Page 51

“It can’t hurt to also review with the management team that the interim has signed all the necessary non-disclosure agreements and can be trusted as much as any employee.” Page 51

“The interim managers department”:

“Here are some tips for ‘Communicating the news’ to the interim department:

1. Review the business situation that led to the interim engagement decision. This includes a discussion of the engagement’s objectives. It’s important the team understands the big picture and what’s at stake.
2. Review the interim’s bio and past achievements to establish his/her credibility with the team.
3. Review interim’s level of authority. In most cases they should be seen as being no different than a new permanent executive coming on board. If they will be conducting performance reviews at some point during the engagement, this should be mentioned. (On the first day of the engagement it is wise to review again authority guidelines with the team and the interim together).
4. Review the time frame of the engagement, including days they will be on site, etc. Depending on the situation, you may wish to emphasize that the engagement is indeed a temporary one. You should be up-front with your plans to eventually fill the position with a permanent hire, or not. If you and the interim are approaching the engagement as ‘try before you buy’ it’s best to disclose this fact to the team.
5. Answer questions.” Page 52

Finding on Demand Leaders

 “In order to make your search as efficient and effective as possible, you’re going to want to give people a clear idea of: what skills you are looking for, the duration of the assignment, and particular background or company experience you require, etc. Equally important to specify are any attributes you don’t want.” Page 56

“Interim provider firms”:

“A firm adds a lot of value because they have a network and expertise; they’re able to draw on decades and decades of experience. The broader the base, the more you’re getting and the better the value.” –Jim George, CEO, Loreto Bay Development Company.” Page 58

“In addition to the “the power of the network”, the interim firm provides five key benefits:

The most important one is the “insurance policy” of having multiple bodies on the bench, in case the interim isn’t succeeding for one reason or another. In most cases the interim isn’t succeeding for one reason or another. In most cases, the existing contract is sufficient (or simply amended) and the replacement can step right in.” Page 58

“The second benefit is a twist on the insurance policy – what if the interim really did get hit by a bus—or, more applicable these days, carpal tunnel or West Nile virus”? Page 58

“Third, if the scope of the position expands or highlights another area of opportunity, the interim usually has another leader to help out in parallel.”Page 58

“Fourth, even in situations where another interim is not required, it is quite probable that the interim you hire will have colleagues on which to draw any time he or she needs a reality check from someone really experienced”. Page 59

“The last benefit is far from the least. Namely, the interim firm routinely placing on-demand leadership has knowledge of the process—not just the process of how placing someone in the saddle but the seasoned understanding that success is not just getting the work done; it‘s about the power dynamics in the expertise.” Page 59

Selecting and Managing the On Demand Leader

“Guidelines for managing the on demand leader”:

 “It’s important that the interim leader be managed at a high enough level to have credibility. It depends on the organisation whether they report to the Board, or the CEO, but it’s critical to their success.” Page 62

“Certain things can’t be pre-determined or written”:

“Interims are great for making change because they’re in and out without having to look these people in the eye the next day. Forty percent of an FTE’s success is:’do people like me?’ which an interim doesn’t worry about.” — Alfred den Besten, former Director of Marketing, Avaya Western Europe page 63

Compensating the On-Demand Leader

“Interim managers are seasoned, highly experienced executives with the ability to work at strategic and tactical levels. While there is no “Blue Book” to refer to in considering the compensation for the interim leadership; these capable on demand leaders carry a price that can be evaluated against traditional human resources i.e. full-time managers.” Page 67

“Only when you are honest about the impact to the bottom lines does the real value of an interim engagement emerge.” Page 69

“It isn’t how cheaply you put a manger in a chair; it is how quickly you get results and how swiftly you regain momentum to avoid the Zone of Declining Possibilities and Performance Vacuum.” Page 70

Conclusion and Top Takeaways

“We believe interim management should be viewed as a powerful strategy for accelerating a company’s momentum, sharpening its competitive edge and enabling it to quickly adapt in a rapid changing economy.” Page 80

“Keys to success: scope and socialization”:

“If the interim and the engagement are not properly: positioned” within your organization, the early days of the assignment can be bumpy. It is very important that the management team, peers, direct reports, vendors, and sometimes customers be advised in advance that an interim will be coming on-board to address certain opportunities and challenges.” Page 82

“Interim management can work for you”:

“For smaller and mid-market companies, interim management can be the ticket to taking the organisation to the next level. As companies grow, they face organisational challenges that are new to them, yet they can’t always afford to hire the “big guns” with Fortune 500 experience.” Page 82

“There is a huge cost to doing nothing”:

“If more CEO’s recognised the costs associated with keeping the wrong person in a position or allowing a leadership position to remain vacant for months, more companies would be using interim managers. What competitive challenges aren’t being met? What new markets are being ignored? Using interim managers is about marshalling the right resources to achieve the desired result, before it’s too late.” Page 83

“It’s not the day rate, it’s the value”:

“When all the costs are considered, an interim’s rates are reasonable. But an analysis of direct costs only reveal part of the picture. What is the value to the organisation of the impact the interim will have during the engagement.” Page 83

“CEO’s in the U.K., Belgium and other European countries are ahead of the curve because the use of interim managers in those countries is wide-spread.” Page 83

“Mind the gap with a parallel staffing strategy”:

“As a matter of procedure, when a senior position needs to be filled and it’s estimated that three months or more will be required for the recruitment process to bear fruit, they might bring in an interim to fill the vacancy while the search progresses.” Page 84

“There are countless other decisions and tasks that can and should be done by a focused and competent executive while the search goes on. Keep momentum going: just say no to performance gaps.” Page 84

“Manage an interim the same as an FTE”:

“An interim should be managed the same as an FTE, and treated the same, too. Managing the interim is relatively easy, because the engagement agreement clearly outlines the objectives, deliverables, and milestones. You are encouraged to view the interim as an FTE. As appropriate to their position, they should attend senior management meetings and be invited to step into a Board meeting.” Page 84

“Interim managers are easy to find”:

“Interim provider firms can be an excellent source. They tend to have an impressive stable of C-level and VP-level talent that have made a career choice to work as interim managers.” Page 84