Dispelling the Myth That All Interim Leaders Are Out-of-Work Executives
Interim executives are often brought on board to lead specific business transformation and change management initiatives. They are highly qualified experts with specialized skill sets and the business experience to quickly address strategic business imperatives — sometimes planned and sometimes unexpected.
As these assignments become more common in Canada due to the evolving landscape of the Canadian economy, we thought it worthwhile to address the misconception that interim executives are all out-of-work executives. Although this may be true for a very small percentage, the vast majority are either seasoned executives or decidedly specialized professionals who have chosen to build successful and highly productive careers as interim leaders.
In fact, a growing number of Canadians are choosing an interim career path because of some very tangible benefits which often include:
- Freedom from long-term commitment, providing more flexibility and work/life balance than a traditional permanent role;
- fast paced, challenging assignments where one can quickly make an impact;
- opportunities to expand their professional portfolios and build deep expertise in areas of special interest; and
- financial incentives.
While interim work has gained popularity in Canada over the last few years, it is not a new concept. Rather, it has steadily been evolving since its commencement in the Netherlands, where restrictive termination legislation in the 1960s fueled the need for interim roles. Two decades later, the United Kingdom realized that organizations had become overstaffed with expensive layers of management and decided to pursue the concept of the interim career professional to combat the problem. The practice quickly became mainstream with most of the world following their interim executive model. These services continued to spread throughout the United States in the early 2000s and became popular in Canada a decade ago. Organizations the world over have come to recognize the advantages of bringing on agile leaders with deep expertise to address their more temporary needs.
In coming years, all signs point to continued growth of the interim management market. From an employer’s perspective, interim assignments provide immediate access to experienced, strategic leaders with little risk or long-term commitment. The interim executive’s perspective is that these contract assignments provide the platform to showcase deep expertise, act as true change agents on strategic initiatives, become part of the global talent pool, and experience a work arrangement based in flexibility.