Author Archives: Simon Brown

The 8 Key Competencies of Great Interim Managers

The 8 Key Competencies of Great Interim Managers

When you hire an Interim Manager, the process differs from the conventional way of recruiting for a permanent employee. For one thing, the hiring process will generally need to be much quicker, because the chances are you want someone on board at very short notice. A much tighter brief is required where your key focus is going to be on the technical skills and competencies, allowing you to be able to make a quick decision and get them on board asap. And of course you want your Interim functioning in the role in a matter of days.

However, it is key that you bring on board someone with the right set of behaviours/competencies, as well as the functional, technical elements of the role.

The top Interim providers screen interim candidates for these qualities and the overall interview process can often therefore be completed in one or two interview stages versus the many stakeholder interviews normally conducted for permanent hires at management level.

So what are the key behaviours/competencies you can expect from your Interim Managers that they have already developed and proven in the field, which will save you time and money that you can use to invest in your talented permanent employees?

From feedback we have received in previous articles around key competencies needed from a commercial perspective and the fact you need someone who can ‘hit the ground running’ we have highlighted what we see as being the 8 key competencies required from your Interim, outlining their Development Difficulty, (how difficult this competency is to develop), using the Lominger Leadership Architect as a guide*(see footnote)

The competencies outlined, have been tried and tested by the TA lead in the team, who used these as an HR tool to assist the hiring managers in the interviewing process, with some very positive results.


Competency Expected Behaviours Developmental Difficulty level

Dealing with Ambiguity

  • Comfortable not having a complete picture before acting
  • Flexible, adaptable, will shift gears
  • Maintains calm in uncomfortable situations


Strategic Agility

  • Understands cause and effect relationships
  • Uses multiple sources and interests for information
  • Makes unusual connections; draws parallels; uses analogies


Business Acumen

  • Understands the consequences of business actions
  • Applies business knowledge to the job/project
  • Understands the interrelationship of business elements


Innovation Management

  • A sense of which applications might work in the marketplace
  • Tolerance for failure and false starts
  • Understands the creative process



  • Breaks things down into steps
  • Evaluates progress and results
  • Accurately estimates time frames



  • Balanced description of situation; uses objective language
  • Able to work through a situation without showing anger or irritation
  • Self-awareness – aware of own emotions at the moment


Managerial Courage

  • Able to take the heat; can stand alone
  • Clear and direct communicator; aware of impact on others
  • Not overly intimidated by those in power


Process Management

  • Simplifies complex processes; gets to the fewest steps
  • Goal driven
  • Gets to the real issues and core essentials of the process



Consider these key competencies when hiring your interim, and also think about the time and investment it would take to bring your current employees up to speed in these areas in order to get those key projects delivered.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, one of the key criteria is the speed of the hiring process, and the ability for the interim to hit the ground running because they have already developed those harder competencies, that you know are required in order to get the job done.

The fact that interims give leadership teams the ability to access competencies that aren’t well developed in-house opens up the door to more project-based work. Specific key behaviours can be brought in to deliver specific projects that otherwise may have been put on hold. Another advantage is the capability of the Interim Manager being able to act as a coach and mentor to your own management teams, by using their insight and experience in the competencies we have highlighted.

As a business, you will see the impact and value add of an interim with these key competencies, almost immediately.

* Lominger being Michael M Lombardo and Robert W Eichinger, authors of FYI (For Your Improvement), a guide for development and coaching. The Lominger competencies came from a content analysis of many sources; the major and continuing studies at the Centre for Creative Leadership.


Written with insight and content provided by Trisha Hiley, Simon Brown, Nicole Thompson, Stephen Forrest:

Trisha Hiley:

Simon Brown:

Nicole Thompson:

Stephen Forrest: