As an interim CIO leader, you were likely selected for the value you brought to the organization. Many C-level executives are lured into an interim role while they look for something more permanent. And, it’s actually more commonplace than you might think. There are multiple ways you can turn this into a positive experience for you and your future employer.
1. You may have an opportunity to drive a new implementation or gain expertise by learning new applications that you can now add to your resume. This is a period in time where “interim” is much more in vogue, given the changes and the shift in demographics. With so many Boomers retiring, there are plenty of interim execs filling seats left by those that either retired or suddenly departed.
2. Get over the fact that you were or are currently in an interim role. The market understands the new world order as it relates to the talent shortage, and there is no need for you to make this into a big deal or feel bad about explaining your recent role in this gig economy.
3. The role you are in as an interim allows you to “test drive” the organization, its leadership and culture. How many times in your career do you get to “try it before you buy it”? Take advantage of the time you have to get to know the leadership team so you can determine if you’ll be happy long-term. You will know when you reach that fork in the road, so take advantage of the extra time you have to conduct your own due diligence. If you find yourself leaning into that role full-time, make sure you let the powers that be know that you are interested. Make sure you are connecting with your team, and help them grow by portraying your leadership and the way you conduct yourself.
4. Pace yourself as you fill the interim role, knowing you probably have three to nine months or longer as an interim leader. This should give you plenty of time to evaluate other opportunities, discover more about the geographic location, and to get to know your team and peers. Try your very best to engage with everyone on the leadership team as a peer. Immerse yourself into delivering high-quality work regardless of your intentions to stay or exit after the assignment wraps up. It’s probably a good idea to participate in social activities with your team and peers so they have a chance to see you and get to know you outside the walls of the facility.
5. Establish goals of the key items you want to learn or achieve as part of your interim assignment. You know better than anyone on which skills you need to learn or what needs your attention in terms of sharpening the skills in areas where you feel you could improve. One of your goals should be to have regularly scheduled 1:1 time with the CEO or COO to check in on the most critical items they need your help in accomplishing. Make sure they see you as a team player and that you are willing to roll up your sleeves as if you plan to stay. It will make you feel better and it will certainly help the executive team understand your value in permeant role or as a reference for you later as you continue to look for your next gig.
Serving as an interim leader can be a wonderful opportunity for you in many ways. Embrace it and you can make a difference whether you convert to a permanent role in that organization or somewhere else.