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Interim Change Leaders Know How to Engage People

21st April 2023

The most successful interim executives – independent experts in delivering change – are excellent engagers of people. When the interim arrives at a new client, those positive thermals of potential achievement significantly increase energy levels among employees.

What our research shows

The results of our research on the competencies of effective interim executives weren’t surprising. Emotional intelligence and engagement, communication, team building, patience, sensitivity and courage all scored highly with interims who could inspire and lead effective change at pace.

When time and money are in short supply, and businesses must up their game, it’s reassuring to know that interim executives have the right workplace behaviours to deliver change. To be successful and keep on track, each interim assignment follows what we call in our paper the Assignment Cycle. Each stage of the cycle, from preparation and entry through to delivery and exit demands the right competencies to ensure a successful change programme.

Emotional intelligence scored highly with interims, who each year join a different business to lead and accelerate change. Because interims are not part of the existing organisation, they must find ways to engage other than through formal authority. Interims quickly work out what motivates people around them to understand how to get the best from them. Sub-dimensions of emotional intelligence such as influencing help embed buy-in to change.

A case in point:  how an interim engaged people to harness organisation potential

When Wincanton hired experienced interim Tony Martin  to implement a growth plan.  He realised quickly that engaging people was going to be key. He explained to me that,

“You can’t impose programmes like this,  they must be willingly owned. So, winning the senior people over and getting them to accept and take ownership was a crucial first step. It demands sensitivity, and you need authentic buy-in. That’s one of the main reasons transformations fail; because so often people neglect or under-appreciate this aspect.”

Tony is a great example of the talented and effective interims in our network. He understands that human competencies are critical to the successful delivery of change. Sensitivity, patience and the courage to ‘hold feet to the fire’ when necessary combine effortlessly with Tony’s natural enthusiasm during any change programme.

Engaging people and showing them the art of the possible are underestimated factors in successful change programmes. But in this uncertain world, one thing is for sure: interim executives will lift your spirits and help you fly high.

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