The need for interim leadership can arise for any number of reasons, planned or unplanned. Interim leaders pave the way for the success of others – the eventual new leader, certainly, but also for the organization and all its stakeholders. Having recently served as an interim CIO in an organization that had gone through the poor implementation of technology, assisting in hiring and onboarding a new leader during COVID-19 activities allowed the organization to leverage deep healthcare IT leadership skills, fresh perspective, and experience with solving complex problems.
In this case, an interim with a hands-on, roll-up-the-sleeves attitude was able to stabilize and improve operations using an evidence-driven approach while maintaining a 35,000-foot consulting perspective in advising leadership about its opportunities and options during a transition. These kinds of issues can only be addressed by someone who has seen it and done it before.
Walking into an interim, it’s not uncommon, but disappointing to find poor communication, blaming, and inadequate sharing of information. Sometimes decision-making processes work poorly or do not exist. Sadly, some people skillfully seek to avoid taking responsibility and resist stepping up to define problems and present possible solutions. An interim leader who is fresh to the culture comes without political debt (or capital) and can provide comprehensive stage-setting and direct forward movement for the organization.
When engaging an interim leader, it is critical to identify the “pay attention to” items and to explain what the organization values and why. In a recent case, it was to reconnect IT back to the priorities of operations, grow junior leaders, and provide specific knowledge and focus on improving service and transparency. During the ramp-up for COVID-19 efforts, it was also crucial to leverage the knowledge of how to quickly assess the situation and put together a strong, concise action-oriented plan to support the organization. The goal of interim leadership is to rapidly connect with people and quickly develop trust-based productive relationships. This starts with surveying the current state of the whole organization and developing key relationships with senior leaders, building credibility with people that you are asked to lead and assist in moving forward.
We also rebuilt critical decision-making and governance processes, hired and onboarded key leaders. The fundamental principle of leadership applies in any interim role – building trust and separating the urgent from the important.
If you find yourself in need of an interim IT leader, turn to StarBridge Advisors. We have seasoned leaders who have experience serving large and small healthcare organizations. We will match the optimal interim leader with your unique needs and organization profile.