There may be advantages and disadvantages of hiring an external interim executive director/CEO vs. assigning an existing staff leader or Board member during a transition. Every organization and situation is unique. However, there are important considerations in making the interim assignment decision. Frequently options are limited by candidate availability. Where the organization has the option of considering an external candidate, the benefits may include: bringing in the objective perspective of an experienced executive who will partner with Board and staff to actually help ‘lift’ the organization during the transition and prepare the way for the success of the incoming leader, flexibility of using an outside resource during a process with indeterminate time frame and results, and enabling current staff and Board leaders to maintain their critical current roles unburdened with multiple jobs. In circumstances where there are internal candidate(s) for the long-term ED position, prospective applicants have the opportunity to apply for the job on the same footing as anyone else without taking on all of the challenges of the transition role as an ‘audition.’ (The candidate also may be able to receive strong mentorship and some training during this transition period.)
The interim ED may help introduce options for change and set the stage for the new long term leader's successful implementation of the best solutions to both entrenched problems and strategic growth. Every organization is unique and requires an individualized plan.