The Role of the Interim Manager: A Guide to Interim Leadership in the Enterprise

In the ever-changing business landscape, companies are often faced with challenges and opportunities that require competent leadership ready to start immediately. 

This is where the interim manager comes in, a dynamic and highly specialised professional figure who provides temporary leadership to companies in times of transition, change or crisis. 

In this article, we will explore who an interim manager is, what his or her responsibilities are and how this figure can bring value to the company in critical times. 


What is interim leadership?

Transitional leadership (interim leadership) refers to the practice of temporarily assigning responsibility for leading and managing an organisation, project or specific function to an individual from outside or within the company for a limited period of time.

This type of leadership is often used in situations of change, transition or crisis, when competent and immediate management is needed to guide the organisation through complex challenges or critical moments.

Transitional leadership is based on competence, experience and the ability to quickly come to grips with complex situations while being able to act and manage everything promptly. 

This practice enables the company to face challenges effectively without having to go through a long-term recruitment process. 


Who is the interim manager?

An interim manager is an experienced and highly qualified professional who is hired by a company for a temporary period, usually to address specific challenges or lead change projects. They are often individuals with extensive experience and leadership skills who can quickly take control and make an immediate positive impact on the business


What are the competencies of an interim manager?

We speak of a set of skills, knowledge and characteristics that make these professionals capable of taking on temporary leadership assignments to address complex business challenges. Given the changing and demanding nature of the roles they take on, interim managers need to possess a wide range of skills that help them make an immediate impact on the business environment they enter. Here are some of the key competencies of an interim manager:


  • Strategic leadership: they must be able to develop and communicate a clear vision to guide the company towards its strategic objectives.
  • Change management: they have the ability to lead the organisation through complex changes, including restructuring, mergers and acquisitions.
  • Problem solving: they must be good at identifying business challenges, analysing them in depth and finding effective solutions.
  • Strategic planning: they can develop detailed action plans to achieve business goals, considering resources, timeframes and objectives.
  • Resource management: they have the experience to allocate and manage resources efficiently, optimising budgets and available skills.
  • Effective communication: they can communicate clearly and effectively at all levels of the organisation, ensuring that every team member is aligned and informed.
  • Negotiation and influence: they must be adept at negotiating and influencing, both within the company and with external partners.
  • Adaptability: they are able to adapt quickly to new environments, industries and challenges, without the need for a long period of adjustment.
  • Time management: they can effectively manage their time and priorities, keeping their focus on the most relevant challenges.
  • Team involvement skills: they must be able to engage and motivate the team, creating a positive and collaborative working environment.
  • Resilience and decision making: can make difficult and decisive decisions even in situations of uncertainty.
  • Sector knowledge: depending on the role, they may require sector-specific knowledge to better understand challenges and opportunities.
  • Relationship management: they must build and maintain positive relationships with the team, colleagues and external stakeholders.
  • Ethical values and integrity: they must act ethically and with integrity, ensuring that all actions are aligned with company values.
  • Continuous learning: they are willing to learn continuously, adapting their skills to new challenges and business environments.


When does a company need an interim manager?

A company may need an interim manager in a number of situations where challenges, opportunities or changes arise that require competent and immediate leadership. Here are some scenarios in which a company might consider hiring an interim manager:


  • Crisis periods: during crisis situations such as restructuring, collective redundancies, financial problems or legal disputes, an interim manager can provide competent leadership to manage the situation effectively and minimise the negative impact on the company.
  • Leadership transitions: when a CEO or senior manager suddenly leaves the company, the interim manager can be hired to fill the leadership void while the company searches for a permanent replacement.
  • Change management: during periods of significant change such as mergers, acquisitions or international expansions, this professional can guide the company through the transition ensuring that operations remain smooth.
  • Transformation projects: for complex transformation projects such as the implementation of new technologies, business process improvement or product diversification, this professional can provide specialised expertise and manage the project efficiently.
  • Business restart: in situations where a company has suffered a temporary halt in operations, for example due to a pandemic or catastrophic event, it can help restart and stabilise the business.
  • Growth challenges: when the company is facing a rapid increase in demands or is entering new markets, it can support the management of resources and operations so that the company can grow sustainably.
  • Management of complex projects: for specialised projects that require specific technical or sectoral expertise, it can lead the project from start to finish.
  • Prolonged absence of a leader: in the event of a key leader’s prolonged absence due to illness or leave, he or she may temporarily fill the role to ensure continuity of operations.
  • Need for innovation: when a company needs to renew its corporate culture and/or introduce new strategies, it can lead these changes.


In general, a company may consider hiring an interim manager when it needs highly specialised skills, experience and leadership to address a variety of business challenges. 


Selection: HR’s role in finding a good interim manager

Human resources (HR) specialists play an essential role in the search and selection process for interim managers. Finding the right professional requires a thorough understanding of the company’s needs, challenges and required qualities. 

HR specialists work closely with top management to understand the specific challenges that require an interim manager precisely to ensure that it is the role they really need and, subsequently, recruit the most suitable professional. 

In addition, they manage the contractual part, including the terms of the assignment, working conditions and remuneration. During the assignment period, HR can also monitor the interim manager’s performance and collect feedback from managers and the team to assess how well he or she is meeting the desired expectations. 


If you think you need to recruit an interim manager for your company, contact us. Our professionals will be at your side throughout the search and selection process for the interim manager best suited to your business needs.