Picking a President: How to hire your interim leadership
In terms of business skills, a good candidate for interim company president isn’t much different than a good candidate for any company’s executive leadership positions; you need someone who, simply put, knows how to run a business. One entrepreneur told us a cautionary tale of hiring an interim president to help guide the company as she moved towards retirement, only to find a few years later that the company was losing profits quickly. When they followed the money, it turns out almost all the expensive losses came from the president’s pet projects, for which he was only accountable to (guess who?) himself! You should be looking for someone with a proven track record of business success and business growth, someone who’s comfortable helping to set formal expectations and boundaries to which they can be held accountable, and (preferably) someone who has experience with your style of business and business structure. (Have they worked with family businesses before? Do they have experience with smaller independent businesses or more with larger corporations?) A good candidate in all these areas could be a great candidate for your interim presidency.
Of course, business skills may not be enough if a culture fit isn’t present as well. You need a candidate who’s willing to listen closely to your family values, the values present in the business currently, and the values you want to pass on to the future generation. A good president will have the leadership skills and temperament to not just keep running and growing a success business, but to train and manage the next generation of family members and company leaders. Your ideal candidate will not just be able to build your business, but pass on your values and cultural identity onto a younger generation of family members. This is, after all, the purpose of an interim president, who will by definition pass on the leadership role once the training is over.
Sometimes, the best way to help a family business succeed is by reaching out to someone outside the family to help with generational transitions. A smart president can take a load off of a retirement-ready entrepreneur and help impart their lessons onto the incoming generation of family business leaders. For more tips on hiring an effective interim president, check out The Soul of the Family Business by Tom Hubler. Through personal anecdotes, real-world case studies, useful tools and frameworks, and more, Hubler offers a wealth of lessons on planning (and executing) a generational leadership transition that helps the entrepreneur, the family, and the business all find success. For all of this, pick up The Soul of the Family Business, available in hardcover form on Amazon.com, directly through Itasca Books, or at a bookstore near you. And of course, you can always contact Hubler for Business Families today to set up a free orientation meeting with Thomas Hubler, the expert on family business planning.