How Will You Recognize the Qualified Interim Head?

Source Newsletter for Trustees Header Image
Source Newsletter for Trustees Header Image

Board of Trustees//

April 24, 2018

Your School Head of 20 years is retiring soon and your Search Committee has been unable to find a new Head who “fits” your school’s current strategic goals.

You’ve decided to select an Interim Head—a temporary position for the upcoming school year—until a new Head can be found for the following year.

Your source for an Interim Head is the pool of experienced, successful administrators who have several schools in their backgrounds and have headed at least two. The successful Interim Head:

  • views this assignment as an opportunity to move the school forward, not as a “holding operation”;
  • takes control gently but firmly, making it clear the buck stops at the Head’s desk, interim or not;
  • clearly establishes his or her position, ensuring that faculty and staff understand the powers and responsibilities assigned by the Board;
  • provides experienced decision-making focused on current needs and based on an understanding of both the school’s past and its future. While the Board may pursue long-term goals, the Interim Head is expected to keep to the short term;
  • remains neutral to factions and refuses to be pressured by power groups;
  • adapts well to schools’ differences—in character, culture, division between policy and administration, etc.;
  • accepts the assistance of those who know the school well;
  • if a school is in crisis, pours oil on troubled waters, rebuilding trust among constituencies; and
  • is willing to take on a mandate to straighten out specific situations. This role is a common one for the Interim Head, who does not have to live with the impact of the decisions he or she makes the following year. As a result, the school will be more attractive to candidates for the permanent position.

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Trustees Vol. 13 No. 5 The Search Committee’s Responsibilities
The Source for Trustees Vol. 14 No. 6 The New Board President and the Head-Elect: A Working Relationship

Additional ISM resources for Gold members:
I&P Vol. 27 No. 5 Financial Questions the Search Committee Should Ask Head Candidates
I&P Vol. 32 No. 7 Strategic Planning, Leadership, and Your Next Head Search


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