3 Ways to Manage Like an Interim Executive

Advice from an interim executive to a CEO in operations and supply chain management

Interim executives step into companies at times of crisis. Facing challenges and solving problems is what they’re good at. They are available to step into companies on short notice, to fill a sudden gap in leadership, and to run a key initiative which provides specialized skills and knowledge for temporary period of time.

James Stewart, a long-time interim executive, shared 3 pieces of advice for CEOs in the area of distribution operations and supply chain management in the Cerius Business Today podcast.

Take the slow way

Getting things done quickly is not always the best idea for business operations that are sensitive. It can have a domino effect on the rest of the organization if not done right and in haste. Take a moment of self-retrospection to ask yourself, is it realistic to be doing all these things?

Instead of doing multiple things at once, break down the process into parts, and question whether you should do them in a sequence of order – finish one part before moving on to the next. It can take longer this way, but as Stewart says, “Sometimes the slow way is the fast way.”

Speaking from his experiences, he said, “In one particular case, we tried to go very fast on quite a few topics and it was difficult to get them all done. We had slips on some of those initiatives; they just unfolded. That’s just the reality of having too many things on your plate, you might not be able to get it all done.”

An interim executive remembers that not everyone is like you

A common mistake made by leaders is that they assume everybody has the same capabilities as them. That is not always the case. People who are CEOs are smart, high-performance people, usually surrounded by other hardworking, insightful, intuitive and clever people like them. However, it would be remiss for them to think that “well if everyone is like me, they’ll get it done.”

The fact is not everybody is like you. And it gets more complicated as you go down 2 or 3 layers in the organization. Stewart advises CEOs to give flexibility and time for all levels of staff to sort through their tasks and make allowances accordingly. He said, “Add a little bit of bandwidth and time flexibility, so that you can make sustainable effective changes as opposed to “hey, we implemented the system but now it doesn’t work because we forgot to do some stuff.”

Don’t hesitate in getting help – get an interim executive

Hiring an interim executive is a very easy way for an organization to get some high-level  expertise at low risk in a problem area. It’s a great option to get the services of an interim executive when the company needs expert help. It also provides an opportunity for them to see how an expert can help the organization before making a big commitment with a permanent hire.

“Don’t hesitate. Go out and get some help on-board, see how quickly it can go,” said Stewart. “It’s a great way to get additional perspectives into your management. It’s a great way to get local flair. And it’s a great way to get access to some experiences that you don’t have by investing in a full-time person for a long period of time.”

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