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How On-Demand Executives help existing leaders

I’ve talked with many CEOs who struggle with the tough decisions they have to make when they really like one of their current functional leaders of a function, but know that the leader isn’t yet ready to scale to the next level. It’s difficult to hire above a leader who has been with you for a long time – maybe even from the beginning. But scaleups often grow more quickly than their leaders. Maybe your HR leader is so mired in the day-to-day payroll and benefits and employee relations fires that they can’t focus on growth. Or your head of sales hasn’t ever scaled a sales team from SMB to Enterprise. Or your head of technology is a strong individual engineer but hasn’t led a large team before. You don’t want to let them go, but can’t afford or don’t want to hire a full time person over the existing leader.

On-demand executives can help solve this dilemma. If there’s a big gap, you can hire an interim or fractional CXO to help you with the work that needs immediate attention, and they can also mentor your current department head until they are ready to take the helm again. Or, you can hire a functional mentor who has been in similar growth situations to work regularly with the leader to help them prioritize and create solutions that work for your business. And, the advisor may also be able to do project work to expand your current leader’s capacity.

This solution is more effective than trying to hire a new full time executive to replace your existing person, who you know is a good fit with you and your culture. It’s also less expensive than trying to source and recruit a full time CXO.

I may be a little biased towards this approach. I was Director of People at Return Path for many years, and was mentored by our external consultant, Marc Maltz. I had support from other internal mentors too, who gave me opportunities, including opportunities to work directly with Marc on projects such as designing and running executive team offsites. When our Chief People Officer left Return Path, and I was promoted into the role, it was a much easier transition as I was able to step into the Chief People Officer role more easily, as a result of the investment in my growth and development.

If you want to ‘bolster’ your executive team and help them prepare for the next stage of growth, consider hiring an on-demand executive to provide coaching and development for your existing team.

– Cathy Hawley, November 10, 2020