Transition is at the core of leadership. Leadership is about change and there can be no worthwhile change if there is no movement from the present into a well-planned future. Besides transitions affecting enterprises, leadership itself has to navigate a lot of transitions.
Enterprises face challenges at an abrupt departure of a key leaders or team members. Sometimes challenges arise when there is no one to fill in the gap at that moment. As part of well-meant interventions caretaker or interim leaders are appointed.
These leaders may have the heart for the cause of the enterprise but deemed not completely fit to occupy the post over a long period. In other instances the leaders themselves may have concerns about themselves, opting to momentarily fill the post or get a feel for it before making a concrete commitment.
Here’s why you should never appoint caretaker / interim leaders:
Caretaker or interim leaders are generally appointed for a short period. Though they may have the long-term in mind, they are going to act for the interim. Caretaker leaders’ focus is keeping the boat afloat for the short-term. Caretakers, that is what they are. While interim leaders may keep the boat afloat, there have great potential of crippling the enterprise in the long-term.
Responsible leadership is about ensuring that core operations are sustained. The permanent leaders who succeed interim leaders generally see the actions of their predecessor as temporary.
Thus they may not see any need in taking seriously and or sustaining some the decisions and systems implemented by their predecessors.
Interim leaders often have limited authority; they have limitations on calls they can make. Thus, they are somewhat regarded as mere figureheads.They are seen a lesser leaders. While they may command respect of those they lead, there are undertones of that they don’t measure up, hence their appointment as interim.
If you really have to appoint an interim leader, make sure they have authority over issues that affect the long-term. Be clear about what their role is and make it clear to the rest of your enterprise.
Guard the ‘sanctity’ of their function for the sake of either the interim leader in the event they assume their post permanently or for their permanent successor.
I highly recommend you also read (if you haven’t done so already):
- What To Consider When You Appoint Caretaker / Interim Leadership
- The Ghosts Of My Predecessors
- Dealing With The Ghosts Of My Predecessors
What what you add? I really would love your to hear your thoughts…