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Can you assess interim executives?

14th November 2013

One of my favourite films has to be ‘Jerry Maguire’, particularly because of its references to the power of fewer strong relationships over many superficial ones. The film is a great example of the parallels which can be drawn between film scripts and the business world. In fact, Holdsway Interim Leadership is built upon the the belief that less is more and fewer but deeper client and candidate relationships is a virtue. More of that in a later blog!

What I have reflected on a lot recently is how best to assess interim executives. I have also counselled many of my valued Board-level network on the subject and I can summarise our combined views on this quite simply. Clients use senior-level interim providers such as Holdsway because they are looking for our expert and insightful view and recommendation on each interim executive. They want to know whether they are the candidate for them – the one who will quite simply deliver! The client expects us to make all the relevant checks to back up this judgement. But it boils down to one simple fact. Do we possess the right judgement to advise a client correctly? This is the sign of an expert interim provider and this is the value they add above all else. How interim providers assess interims will be a combination of methods. It always should be.

Back to my expert panel of Board-level executives. They believe that chief among assessment of interim managers and executives is ‘feedback’. I couldn’t agree more. That is to say, feedback on their most recent assignments being the most relevant. Can they deliver? In my experience I would also underline the importance of knowledge of your panel of interims. I like to ‘tune-in’ face to face two or three times a year with my best interim executives. ‘One shot’ just doesn’t do it. Which brings me to the subject of this ‘blog’. I’m a huge film fan. But why are some interim providers filming their candidates? Given the clear feedback from my panel and from my own experience – regular, updated feedback and face to face assessment is what buyers of interim management want. A film is like a snapshot or a photo taken at one point in time. And if one interim is just a star in front of a camera, is photogenic or is just having a good day on screen, presenting videos of candidates has the potential of being quite misleading and can emphasise the wrong strengths.

Another favourite film is ‘The Godfather’ and most people know that Al Pacino played ‘Michael’ and James Caan played ‘Sonny’. Many may not know that Robert de Niro failed the ‘screen test’ for both roles.

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