Why Hire an Interim Executive Director (IED)?

The need for interim executive leadership can occur for a variety of reasons:

  1. during a period of organizational transition brought on by human resource issues at the top,
  2. an operating crisis that existing management is unable to handle, or
  3. a sudden departure of a staff leader.

Whether the Board intervenes to initiate the removal, or the Executive Director exits for another opportunity, the change is disruptive and causes upheaval for the organization and its stakeholders.

Often the first response of the Board is how can we get through this transition quickly and cost effectively with minimum disruption. In reality, this transition is a valuable opportunity for the Board to pause, reflect on where they’ve been, where the organization should go and what skills the next executive director should have to move the organization forward. Additional, unnecessary problems can arise from this transition through the following:

  1. The Board decides to designate a current staff member as the interim executive director.
    Potential problems:
    a. The other staff resent the elevation of their colleague
    b. The designated Interim has a difficult time continuing their current duties during their Interim assignment and resuming their subordinate status when a new ED is hired.
  1. The Board assumes the transition will be quick and they appoint one of their members to act as an interim.
    Potential problems:
    a. The search (which typically lasts 6-9 months) takes longer than the Board expected and insufficient attention is paid to the organization’s day-to-day services (or outside responsibilities that the Board member might have)
    b. The Board is occupied with maintaining the status quo and misses the opportunity to think creatively about what the organization’s future should be.

Interim leadership enables the organization to take the time to conduct a careful, comprehensive search for new permanent leadership. An interim executive provides valuable objective insights into operations, personnel and institutional performance for the Board of Directors and can work with the search committee to determine important skills and experience required for the next leader.

At Interim Executive Solutions (IES), we call this the “interim management opportunity”. An organization can hire a seasoned professional manager to serve as a catalyst; bridging the management gap while focusing on key issues that need to be addressed to help cultivate the work environment and improve the chances for the new, permanent leader to be successful.

IES offers nonprofit Boards, executive search firms, and funders the opportunity to bring in seasoned leadership to the enterprise early in the transition process to help prepare the ground for the new permanent leadership to land successfully.

What Does IES Provide?

IES offers a roster of seasoned business leaders from a variety of different industry sectors and nonprofit organizations. All IES executives bring to their assignment a wealth of successful leadership experience, a history of senior level responsibility and accountability, management team-building skills, membership in the “IES support network” and access to an extensive “knowledge base” of for-profit and not-for-profit management best practices. Because time is critical, our interim leaders are usually able to move into their assignments on extremely short notice.

IES executives are selected for their management style and code of conduct that guide their interactions with Board and Staff as expert interim leaders. IES professionals are also technical resources with skills ranging from facilitating Board retreats to developing an informational dashboard. IES does not perform search functions however we partner with many search firms to support their work on your behalf.

Once IES places an Interim ED into your organization, a partner Liaison stays in regular communication with both the organization’s Board and with the designated IED to provide additional support. This ensures a satisfactory experience for your organization.


Printable IES Interim Executive Director Overview