The most important characteristic that you bring to an interim assignment is not actually a skill.   

Okay, to get technical, it does depend on your definition of skill, but there are broader attributes that are more important. Keep reading to see why.  

  • Required to review a change of strategy? That’s me! 
  • Operational excellence and performance needs to be looked at? I’m your person.  
  • Leading a whole organisation when a CEO has stepped aside at short notice?  I bring stability in times of chaos.  

Picture yourself walking into a new assignment. Liz or Lenny from IT gives you your logins and you get introduced to a few members of the team. You have wowed them with your “portfolio of performance”, and that’s why they offered you the role. You know that there is a problem that the organisation needs to solve. They have hired you to get something unique done – an investment for a set period of time and they are seeking out a skillset that you distinctly have.  

It isn’t just your core skills that will bring a successful assignment. For the next six (three… nine…twelve) months you will work through a set of challenges which your background, skills and demonstrated experience have set you up for.

The following five attributes will maximise your chance of success.   

1. Building relationships quickly and with credibility will influence key outcomes

While bringing doughnuts to feed the team cannot harm your chance of success, it is your ability to win credibility within days and weeks of commencing that becomes essential for mission success. Other than written reports, documents and spreadsheets that are shared with you – the relationships you develop with internal stakeholders and employees are the key to understanding the present situation.  

Building relationships can take various forms, look to the following:  

  • Building trust quickly – show your dependability in small and big things  
  • Ask for feedback and suggestions – get buy-in and show you are listening  
  • Be a resource – offer support, advice and assistance to show your authenticity  

Your ability to establish trust allows you to leverage your emotional intelligence and understand the situation as quickly as possible. It will allow you to access more information, work through thorny topic areas, and navigate any internal politics.  

Maximise your time with key stakeholders, ask insightful questions, and quickly work out the best way to communicate with each leader or group.  

Use humour.  Leave your ego elsewhere.  

2. Bringing simplicity into the complex

Leave your fancy words for another time.  

Many have quoted Hans Hofmann, abstract expressionist painter – “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”

Don’t dazzle your audience with highly technical language, even if you are the smartest person in the room. Bring them along the journey and open up the problem to more clever minds. Ensure you eliminate the unnecessary.  

Without over-simplifying, speak clearly. The resolution and path forward will surely become clearer too. 

3. Analysis – Where are we now?  

Your unique skillset will include being able to join the dots beyond what others can. Become a sponge in your new environment and absorb everything you can about your new environment, the progress, the gaps, the things that they do well, the things they don’t – it’s all important.  

You have been brought to this table with your fresh eyes to understand the current state.  The way things are.  The norms and routines.  

Do ask others (many others) for their opinion, but don’t be blinded by the internal “knowledge”.  Make your own assessment. And then thoughtfully share your insights with your client.  

They have invested in you to bring your insights and analysis – could this the most important part of your assignment?  

4. Generously share your unique knowledge and skills

As mentioned above, the main purpose of you joining this company in an interim capacity is to solve their unique problem and deliver some excellent outcomes. You have a skillset that isn’t within the organisation, and they are investing in you for a set period of time.  

The second most important thing, often, is to ensure that you leave behind a wealth of knowledge. Mentoring and upskilling others so that beyond the length of your Interim role the company will benefit for years to come.  

While it might be counterintuitive to be generous with sharing your knowledge and skills – being the expert can continue the demand for your services – your ability to leave a legacy will bring a lot of goodwill.

5. Mobilisation

Fulfilling the brief and finishing the work is very satisfying.  

One of the main differences between an Interim Executive and a Management Consultant is that an interim can do all that a consultant can do, but with the added responsibility for the outcome through execution and implementation to the desired standard.  

Your chapter in this organisation comes to an end, but the impact will not because you have embedded the change and reviewed the strategy for optimal performance.  

And don’t forget, this great outcome also adds to your Portfolio of Performance – which you take with you and share with your next employer. You will be able to solve their problems too.  

Our clients come back to Brooker to hire Interim Executives. Not only because we have experienced and immediately available candidates, but also because we take the time to find curated professionals with the above attributes.  

Want to understand how this all works? Contact Leighton Cantrill on or 0493 827 145 at Brooker Consulting and chat through the next steps. 

Follow our LinkedIn and Facebook pages for more information.