Magazine Column 3

October 2016

How would you like to be a healthcare executive with the independence and flexibility to take on a variety of business challenges — free from office politics, able to deploy your experience, and valued as a mentor for up-and-comers?

That’s what you will find as an interim leader. You might think you’ve already had a gold-plated career, but serving in fast-paced, short-term roles can be like upgrading from 10-carat to 24-carat.

Interim Leadership is a perfect for a mid-or late-career executive who, because of life circumstances, such as caring for an aging parent, can’t commit to a traditional full-time role. Interim Leadership also offers later career executives the opportunity to remain engaged while mixing in travel and other retirement pursuits.

Joining an organization as an interim leader often means jumping into a high-intensity situation, such as serving as the CEO while the board searches for a permanent replacement. Or, perhaps you would step into a critical upper-level position, such as chief or director of clinical or financial or information services.

The adrenaline shot comes as you focus on the immediate tasks, while leading a new team inside an unfamiliar culture.

Interim leadership, however, is not a one-way street.

Not only can it be rewarding for the professional, but interim placements can also be highly beneficial to the employer.

Leaders with proven know-how can help solve a problem and stabilize an organization during a time of flux.  And, they can accelerate the development of younger talent rising through the managerial ranks.

Interim leadership can produce a true win-win.

Take this example of a senior leader who was shaken by losing his position through downsizing. He thrived in an interim position and increased his responsibilities. By having such a positive impact as an interim, he regained his confidence, and accepted a permanent position with another employer that achieved his personal and professional goals.

It is so rewarding to match the talent and experience of individuals with the needs of employers, as was the case with June, a chief nursing officer from California.

She became restless after her retirement. A hospital in Wisconsin needed a leader with June’s skill and experience. And now, June has served the hospital for over two years in various capacities after her initial assignment.

June says being an interim leader is the best job she never knew she wanted. The experience has been fulfilling, allowing greater freedom and the ability to have a greater impact on patient care and future leaders than she had at her previous job.  She credits her client hospital and the advantage of being an interim leader for this unexpected late-career purpose.

So as June and many others have found, working as an interim leader can add shine to what was already a luminous career — almost like finding a diamond in the rough.