I am not a salesman


Abstract: This article looks into the importance of selling in business and the relevance of the development of selling skills to career success regardless of your role in an organization.

Really?  You’re not a salesman or saleswoman or salesperson?  What are you then?  Zig Ziglar and others argue that everyone is in selling whether he or she recognize or acknowledge it or not.  I have come across people that say that they consciously and intentionally do not know anything about selling or that selling is below their station in life.  Some of them have no idea that some of the best-compensated people in society achieve the success they enjoy from being successful in sales.

What is selling anyway?   I would define selling as bringing someone else around to your way of thinking.  The hoped result of the selling process is that the other party will decide to act upon your suggestions and recommendations (closing questions).  Sometimes this results in a sale for value in which goods or services are exchanged. In other cases, you are selling a concept or ideas like a strategy or recommended course of action to a decision maker that must put their reputation and possibly their job on the line by committing to your proposed course of action.

When some people hear the term ‘salesman’ the image that pops up in their mind is the high-pressure wielding scoundrel at the ‘buy here, pay here, Se Habla Español’ used car dealership with the moussed hair, polyester leisure suit, braided leather suspenders, and patent leather platform shoes.   The sales weasel is the offensive stereotype that ‘professionals’ avoid at all costs. However, the argument can be made that the scoundrel has a much easier way of making a living than those of us that make our living by selling ideas, concepts, and strategies into sophisticated organizations.  He is not up against counterparties that in many cases are considerably more experienced, educated, credentialed or intelligent than he is.  More often than not, the reverse is true.

If you would just as soon not be bothered with selling, my suggestion is that you dispense with aspirations of obtaining or staying in a C-Suite role.  What is a C-Suite?  One definition is that it is a marketplace of ideas.  The environment is characterized by continuous, ongoing debate of concepts and strategies to move the organization forward or respond to problems and threats.  If you are not effective in getting your ideas heard, debated and accepted, you might want to start thinking about finding another way to make a living.  If you cannot successfully sell your fair share of ideas in what is usually a very intimidating, competitive and sometimes hostile environment, your perceived value will fall along with the probability of achieving your career ambitions.

What types of selling occur?  Direct selling involves interactions with the intended purpose of an agreement to exchange goods or services for money.  What I will refer to as professional selling is focused on winning in the marketplace of ideas.  In other words, getting decision-makers to take your advice, respond to your counsel or choose a course of action based primarily upon your input. Professional selling is infinitely more difficult because it has a variable that is usually not present in direct selling – politics.  The politics are carried out generally behind the scenes by competitors of yours that could be trusted co-workers that advocate for their ideas behind the scenes or behind your back, without giving you the courtesy or respect of a face-to-face argument.  They use whatever leverage is available to them behind the scenes, under the table, and behind your back to advance their causes, frequently resulting in decisions that do not make rational sense.  Suboptimal results occur because, in the presence of politics, decision making is usually irrational.

For example, I experienced a situation where some physicians were not happy with some of the decisions coming out of the boardroom and the front office.  Do you know how many visits I had from any of the doctors?  The answer is zero!  Instead, they took their grievances directly to members of the board or county commission that humored and engaged them possibly in utter and absolute ignorance of the degree to which this amounted to the active undermining of the leadership team of the organization.  I learned that one board member was accosted in the church vestibule and never made it into the sanctuary to join their family for the service.  Others are caught at their places of work or during unrelated social events.  As we are seeing in our society right now, people that are sufficiently strident about their position will resort to extreme means including violence to have their ideology imposed upon the rest of us.  If you are in a board meeting and something entirely unexpected comes out of left field and derails something that you have put a lot of time and energy into, there is a good chance you are a victim of cowardly, destructive politics.

The stakes of success in a political environment are exponentially higher.  If you are to be successful when you are up against political resistance, your arguments or the effectiveness of your selling must be sufficiently compelling to not only overcome the logical burden of your case but the political forces that may be working against you behind the scenes or maybe more accurately stated, behind your back.  If this is not selling, I don’t know what is.  Most of the time, to one degree or another, your career is potentially on the line when you are selling to your leader or a board of trustees.  Must close selling puts you in an Apollo 13 situation where failure is not an option.  I sold vacuum cleaners in college.  I learned these concepts early on.  In-home vacuum selling can be very intense, high-pressure selling.  That said, selling vacuum cleaners is infinitely more comfortable than surviving in the shark tank that is the C-Suite of most organizations I have experienced.  I guess that’s why good vacuum cleaner salesmen make around $50K and C-Suite roles pay into seven figures.

So, the obvious question is what you should be doing?  My recommendation is that you start dedicating significant time and energy to learning as much as you can about selling.  The quintessential sales trainer is Zig Ziglar. He is one of the best but not the only one.  I would also recommend Harvey Mackay. Both of these guys are retired, but their work is as relevant as ever. Effective selling requires a healthy positive attitude.  There are many excellent motivational speakers. Some of my favorites are Les Brown, Earl Nightingale, Dr. Angela Duckworth, Zig Ziglar, and Ed Foreman.  Don’t overlook some of the incredible ministers that deliver messages of hope and inspiration.  For starters, I recommend Charles Stanley, Johnny Hunt, Robert Schuller, and Joel Osteen.  I have found that the more time I spend listening to these inspiring people, the luckier I become in the marketplace of ideas in a consulting firm, among my compadres, in a hospital C-Suite or down at the local watering hole.

Contact me to discuss any questions or observations you might have about these articles, leadership, transitions or interim services.  I might have an idea or two that might be valuable to you. An observation from my experience is that we need better leadership at every level in organizations. Some of my feedback is coming from people that are demonstrating an interest in advancing their careers, and I am writing content to address those inquiries.

The easiest way to keep abreast of this blog is to become a follower.  You will be notified of all updates as they occur.  To become a follower, click the “Following” bubble that usually appears near the bottom of each web page.

I encourage you to use the comment section at the bottom of each article to provide feedback and stimulate discussion.  I welcome input and feedback that will help me to improve the quality and relevance of this work.

This blog is original work.  I claim copyright of this material with reproduction prohibited without attribution. I note and provide links to supporting documentation for non-original material.  If you choose to link any of my articles, I’d appreciate notification.




48% of CFOs don’t have a succession plan


OR Efficiencies

Though CFOs are usually known for their careful attention to detail, 48 percent of them  have not identified a successor, according to a study in The Wall Street Journal.

Robert Half Management Resources surveyed 1,100 CFOs in  various industries. Of those respondents who have not created a succession plan, nearly two-thirds said they had no plan because they did not intend  to step down soon. They also cited the need to focus on other priorities and the absence of qualified candidates.

Jenna Fisher,  head of the global corporate sector at executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates, said  the percentage of CFOs with succession plans represents a dramatic improvement from five years ago, when she estimated less than 10 percent of her clients had CFO succession plans.

“The role of CFO has become more salient,” Ms. Fisher said.




We can’t afford to hire you


Abstract:  This article looks further into the value proposition of a sophisticated Interim Executive.

I have become accustomed to being ruled out of a beauty pageant for an Interim Executive consulting position based on rate alone.  In most cases, I am told by the decision maker about this problem after the fact.  It is common for the decision to be made without consulting me or giving me a chance to negotiate.  While I could have been flexible, my flexibility is limited by the opportunity cost of existing or potential competitive opportunities.  When I talked with the decision makers, they were frequently operating from the assumption that the gap was too big to close.  Instead, they lost an opportunity to get a resource with my background and experience while settling for an alternative solely based on cost.  It is clear that these decision makers severely discounted the potential value of engaging a more experienced resource.  Or, I could have simply been beat on price by an equally or better-qualified competitor but I doubt it.  I have seen too many cases of decision makers making what could be a critical decision based on the hourly rate alone.  Lest this come across as bitter, I have not failed to end up with a desirable engagement and I am generally happy with the outcome.  I have learned that as Mick Jagger said, “You can’t always get what you want.  But if you try sometime (sic), you find you get what you need.”  I cannot help but wonder how things are going in the organizations that passed me by.

What would some of the common excuses for a supposedly otherwise intelligent decision maker making a choice solely on rate?

We are in financial distress.  Interim Executive Services typically price on the experience and relevance of a proposed interim to a specific situation.  This is analogous to hiring a lawyer.  One of my friends liked to say that one of the worst things that can happen to you is to end up with the second best attorney in a critical situation.  To gain access to the best and most experienced talent in a law firm, you must be willing to pay the firm’s highest rates.  The reason that older, more experienced law firm partners’ rates are higher is that the market will bear their rates whatever they are because their time and expertise are in very high demand.  For those of us that make a living selling time, you are limited as to how much you can sell.  A firm in financial distress can end up in bankruptcy.  Another bad outcome for a firm in distress is to default on debt obligations that can result in the Board and leadership team losing control of the organization.  Banks and bondholders can and will accelerate the debt and take other actions to preserve their interests.  The pertinent question for the decision maker to make in this situation is what is the best resource available to avoid the undesired outcome regardless of cost because the cost of failure is infinitely higher.  If you think an Interim Executive is expensive, check the rates of bankruptcy attorneys and debtor in possession consultants.

I can get someone else for less money.  Inexperienced or ignorant people do not understand the differences between physicians.  They assume a doctor is a doctor is a doctor.  They do not understand the difference between a pathologist and a proctologist.  This is the kind of logic used by a decision maker that assumes that there is no difference in interim executives and places the first and/or cheapest resource they can find in an effort to get someone, anyone with a heartbeat into a position.  The pertinent question in this situation is what is the cost of failure and how small is this cost as a percentage of the cost of the cheapest resource available vs. a competent, experienced advisor.  I followed an interim CFO in a hospital that had somehow managed to miss a growing over-valuation of accounts receivable that ultimately led to a write-down of A/R in excess of $50 million and a number of executives including the CEO of the place losing their jobs.  Maybe the CEO should have looked at my article on how to avoid getting whacked.  In my experience, hiring decision makers rarely account for the personal career risk they may be taking by thier involvement in bringing an interim aboard.

We can absorb the workload.  This is one of my favorites.  Really?  Are you telling me that the departed executive did so little that a potentially prolonged vacancy of their position will not be missed and there is no risk in not having the role filled?  If this is the case, the decision maker should eliminate the position.  Just because the departed executive may have not been meeting the organization’s needs does not translate to their role not being worth filling with someone that knows what they are doing.  As a matter of fact, putting an experienced interim into a key role say CEO or CFO, might go a long way towards demonstrating to the organization how the role should be filled and carried out.  If you engage a sophisticated interim, there is a very good chance that the permanent executive you hire to ultimately fill the position will not come close to the value-adding potential of an experienced interim executive.  On this point, it is not a good idea nor is it fair to candidates to benchmark them against an experienced interim.  This makes it hard on everyone by unnecessarily delaying the recruiting process in some cases and potentially creating unreasonable expectations for a permanent candidate when there is a successful recruitment.

These are but a few of the excuses I have heard as reasons to rule me out of an Interim gig.  I am sure my readers can contribute others possibly spawning a series of articles on this topic.  One of the key things to remember if you are an interim executive as I said in my article about the value proposition of interim executives is what Zig Ziglar said, ‘You cannot control what someone else is going to do.  All you can control is how you respond.”  Don’t take rejection personally.  Remember, in baseball, a hitting failure rate of 70% or more is considered to be an excellent performance.  Another thing to think about is you never know what you may be saved from.  I can say from experience that I have been fortunate on more than one occasion to not get something I desperately wanted at the time.  You may never know the degree to which fate or divine intervention may be bearing on the outcome of one of your proposals.  If you are a decision maker, you owe it to yourself and those around you whose fate may be tied to yours to undertake the most objective, evidence-based decision-making process you are capable of whether the decision has to do with engaging an interim or any other key decision for that matter.

Contact me to discuss any questions or observations you might have about these articles, leadership, transitions or interim services.  I might have an idea or two that might be valuable to you.  An observation from my experience is that we need better leadership at every level in organizations.  Some of my feedback is coming from people that are demonstrating an interest in advancing their careers, and I am writing content to address those inquiries.

The easiest way to keep abreast of this blog is to become a follower.  You will be notified of all updates as they occur.  To become a follower, click the “Following” bubble that usually appears near the bottom of each web page.

I encourage you to use the comment section at the bottom of each article to provide feedback and stimulate discussion.  I welcome input and feedback that will help me to improve the quality and relevance of this work.

This is an original work.  I claim copyright of this material with reproduction prohibited without attribution.  I note and provide links to supporting documentation for non-original material.  If you choose to link any of my articles, I’d appreciate notification.

If you would like to discuss any of this content, provide private feedback or ask questions, I may be reached at ras2@me.com.




How do you ‘hire’ (and manage) an interim executive?


Image result for interim cfo

Abstract:  This article is about the optimum relationship between an interim executive and their client.  It has been a while since I wrote on Interim Executive Services.  In this article,  I  return to the primary topic of this blog.

What is the difference between interviewing and hiring an interim vs. an employee?

First of all, it is not in your best interest to ‘hire’ an interim.

If the interim is furnished though a firm, they are more than likely paid on a W-2 and you are not technically ‘hiring’ the interim, you are engaging or entering a contact with their firm.  The interim is ’employed’ by the firm and not you.  Employed is loosely used in this case because while the interim may be on a W-2 program with their firm, the only time they are paid is if they’re producing billable revenue. Sadly for the interim, they get to bear all of the disadvantages of being paid by W-2 while consulting without having the ability to reap any of the benefits of being an independent expert.

Now assume that you are smart enough and lucky enough to source the perfect independent or free lance interim directly, what then?

Congratulations, you are probably well on your way to having a far superior resource that will  be highly motivated to address your situation without the interference of a third party that in my experience, adds little if any value beyond sourcing the interim.  If you have experience with this, you know what I’m talking about.  When was the last time you saw anyone from the interim firm you engaged other your interim?

With a free agent, you will be contracting with the Interim or a company (LLC or S-4 Corporation) they own.  Legally, you are dealing with a sole proprietor in most cases regardless of whether their corporate entity is involved or not.  For this reason and depending upon the circumstances, you might want to get their personal guarantee of their firm’s performance.

I have a S-4 Corporation that I can use for contracting.  The problem for me is that if I bill though my corporation, I am obliged to pay the federal government 9% of my earnings in the form of federal unemployment tax or FUTA that I can never claim because as an independent consultant, I cannot be ‘laid off’ so I am ineligible to receive FUTA.  Don’t get me started.  I have been fortunate that my clients have agreed to engage me directly and individually.  A corporate structure when dealing with a sole provider affords disproportionate list to the provider.

What about insurance?  Increasingly, client firms are requesting or requiring professional liability insurance.  Setting aside the fact that I have never seen a claim against a professional liability policy for interim services, I have been successful in convincing my clients to name me under their Directors and Officer’s Insurance (D&O) coverage if I as an interim am going to be authorized to execute documents and take actions on behalf of my client.  To me, this makes more sense for the client because if I am required to obtain insurance that will most likely be less robust than the organization’s D&O coverage, that cost is going to be passed along and in effect, the client will be paying twice for the same coverage.  Not only that, in the event of a problem, you are more than likely going to be drawn into a subrogation fight.  If I have no authority and I am not going to be executing documents, i.e., I am engaged to do project work, then liability insurance should be a non-issue.

In another article, I talk about how to find interim executives.

If you have found the ‘perfect’ interim for your transition or challenge, good for you.  If the interim is experienced and sophisticated, you should not have any reservation about engaging them directly and putting them to work in your organization immediately.

Once the interim is aboard, do not lose sight and do not allow your organization to lose site of the purpose of the interim engagement which is usually to help an organization work through a transition usually while beginning the process of addressing major challenges or problems.  The scope of the work to be performed should be mutually understood and memorialized in the contract with the Interim Executive.  Subsequent departures from the agreed scope represent sub-optimization of the engagement at best and a useless waste of resources at worst.

An interim is not an employee and the more you treat them like an employee, the less effective they will be and the higher risk you will bear with respect to their status as an independent contractor.

A number of requirements must be met before your interim reaches reach the threshold of independent contractor status.  To name a few:

  • You cannot set the interim’s hours
  • You cannot dictate when and how the interim does their work
  • You cannot require the interim to use your facilities and equipment to do their job
  • You cannot subject the interim to your personnel policies and procedures like travel policies, etc.
  • You should not require the interim to participate in employee related activities like employee health, computer system training, etc., unless their specific responsibilities require patient contact or hands-on operation of hospital systems which should be very rarely.
  • You should never require interims to record time on your organization’s timekeeping system

The more you require your interims to engage in the actives of employees; things like requiring them to attend out of scope meetings, the higher your risk that the IRS may subsequently find that they were not independent contractors and subject your organization to payroll tax liability and overtime claims that you did not anticipate.

Time and again, I have been required by hospital personnel departments to go through all of the clearances and sometimes orientation of employees.  Then I get invited to every meeting in the organization.  All of this increases the client’s risk while wasting my time.  I have asked the person that executed my contract to screen and approve meeting requests to insure that I am able to stay on task and that the rest of the organization understands my roles and its limitations from their perspective.

I tell clients that regardless of the number of hours they pay for, they receive 100% of my mental capacity virtually 100% of the time.  I find it difficult if not impossible to mentally divorce myself from the needs and issues of my client whether I am ‘on the clock’ or not.  Because of this, flexibility of hours should not be an issue because when I am engaged, I am always working for the benefit of my client.  That said, I assure my client that regardless of the ‘normal’ schedule we agree to, I endeavor to make myself available on-site as needed.  This means spending weekends in the client’s city and/or traveling on behalf of the client for matters not related to Interim services commuting.

Take another look at my article about how to find an interim.  The effort you expend to locate a ‘free agent’ Interim Executive is worth the trouble.  My prediction is that you will thank yourself for taking charge of what should be expected to be one of the most important decisions you may ever make because of the potential of a well conceived Interim Engagement to be favorably transformative in your organization.

If you are a Board member or a CEO and you do not know where to start or how to go about finding an Independent Interim, get in touch with me and I will give you some pointers.

Contact me to discuss any questions or observations you might have about these articles, leadership, transitions or interim  services.  I might have an idea or two that might be valuable to you.  An observation from my experience is that we need better leadership at every level in organizations.  Some of my feedback is coming from people that are demonstrating interest in advancing their careers and I am writing content to address those inquiries.
The easiest way to keep abreast of this blog is to become a follower.  You will be notified of all updates as they occur.  To become a follower, just click the “Following” bubble that usually appears near the bottom each web page.
I encourage you to use the comment section at the bottom of each article to provide feedback and stimulate discussion.  I welcome input and feedback that will help me to improve the quality and relevance of this work.
This is original work.  This material is copyrighted by me with reproduction prohibited without attribution.  I note and  provide links to supporting documentation for non-original material.  If you choose to link any of my articles, I’d appreciate notification.
If you would like to discuss any of this content, provide private feedback or ask questions, I may be reached at ras2@me.com.

Hiring an Interim CFO


Image result for interim leadership

Hospitals are seeing increasing amounts of management turnover, especially in the C-Suite. Skilled and experienced healthcare executives are in short supply mostly due to an industry-wide talent drain, lack of mentoring, and minimal succession planning.

Realistically, filling executive positions takes time, even with the assistance of search firms. Meanwhile, management voids can be damaging: communications suffer, initiatives lose pace, and disruptions occur. Even during a brief transition, some organizations cannot afford vacant leadership positions.

Is interim management a viable option to the risk of absent leaders? Is it better to hire quickly to avoid a vacant role? Many organizations consider interim management solutions as a transitional step to permanent replacement of vacant positions, often in conjunction with the use of a search firm. Others may see the talent and skills within and be able to move quickly. Still, others may hire hastily and lose valuable time in the long run to identify the best candidate.

What tact should your organization take when leadership vacancies occur?


When openings occur in the senior leadership structure, interim management offers advantages over traditional alternatives.

1. Prevents work overloads. Spreading assignments among others causes work overloads. Temporary assignments add extra responsibilities to an incumbent’s already “full plate,” which can lead to work overload and compromised performance. However, a capable interim executive can devote full time and attention to the responsibilities of the vacant management role. A temporary appointment is a welcomed contrast to assigning extra responsibilities to incumbents when a resignation occurs.

2. Adds objectivity. A new set of eyes is beneficial to organizations in transition. Interim leaders usually are less affected by the internal politics of an organization, especially those related to a promotion or a permanent placement into the vacant role. By removing the “vested interest” from the leadership paradigm, the interim executive holds a unique perspective often unavailable to others within the organization. Simply, the temporary status allows the interim position-holder to make decisions unencumbered by career-driven aspirations.

3. Enthusiasm generates optimism. Seasoned healthcare leaders enjoy serving as interim executives and they bring their gratification to the assignment. Their extensive experience and relevant knowledge enables the interim manager to serve as a short- or medium-term replacement for a vacant position as well as a valuable consultant. The organization benefits from the interim’s experience and ability to address the ongoing challenges. When a national search to fill the position is concurrent with an interim assignment, the interim leader and the search consultant can work together to identify a candidate with the right cultural fit. Nuances unique to the operation, culture, and strategic initiatives otherwise unnoted are minimized as the two executives work in tandem.


An interim management solution may not be the best option for every organization or with every vacancy. Quickly hiring and filling the position may be more expedient, especially if an internal candidate with the necessary skill set and personal attributes to succeed is available. Interim solutions may convey misconceptions among the senior managers.

1. Delay may cause unrest. Concerns about a delay should not lead to rushing to a decision or hurriedly identifying an individual to fill the vacated position. Other leaders and managers throughout the healthcare organization may become disillusioned when a vacancy is filled hastily with an internal interim solution.

2. Management perceived as indecisive. By engaging in a temporary solution, senior management may be perceived as indecisive and willing to “float along” for a period while the entity secures the right person with particular skills.


If you decide to engage an interim executive, follow proven guidelines to achieve success and to provide your organization with a value-added service beyond supplying a temporary workforce.

1. Use a reputable and qualified placement firm. Engage a reputable executive search firm to identify and vet candidates before placement. Using qualified professionals to fill interim assignments allows you to off-load the time-consuming, and often expensive, recruitment and screening process. Some firms have both a capable short-term bench and the capacity to conduct the search for the permanent placement. As a subject matter expert, the interim executive can collaborate with the search professional to produce the desired results.

2. Inform candidates of expectations. The candidates should be aware of the expectations that both the hiring organization and the placement firm will have for them. The acting executive needs to understand that their primary focus and allegiance is to the assigned organization. He or she should consider the provisional assignment as a full-time role and not just act as a placeholder. This ownership of the job responsibilities at hand will be a critical success factor for the interim executive. The placement firm should provide oversight to ensure the interim executive approaches the work in this manner, focusing on results. Other leaders within the organization must not perceive the interim as temporary, rather a part of their team.

3. Engage a multi-service search firm. The organization may be well-served by using executive search companies that have the bench strength to fill both short-term and permanent vacancies, as well as the resources to evaluate and even train interim executives in the leadership skills necessary to their new roles. Executive coaching of this type can be especially valuable with physician executives who may lack the management training and experience to succeed in their new non-clinical areas of responsibility.

4. Focus on alignment and avoid conflicts of interest. The organization and the placement firm should be transparent and focused on alignment to assure that the interim executive succeeds. They should identify any potential conflicts of interest and make all efforts to resolve these without involving the interim executive. The executive should be able to commit his or her full loyalty and attention to the hiring organization. He or she should not be in a position of having to choose between fidelity to the interim employer or their direct employer, i.e., the placement firm.

5. Compensate fairly. Executive search firms that know the market rate for high-level managers in healthcare organizations are best suited to handle interim placements. An acting role may demand a premium payment for travel expenses, dislocation of the candidate from his or her family, relocation to a geographically isolated facility or overseas location, and placement into an often chaotic and dysfunctional environment. However, the fees for the interim manager should be valued fairly, not exceeding the boundaries of fair-market-value or commercial reasonableness. This test is especially important when hiring physician executives into these roles, as Stark and anti-kickback laws may apply, especially if the physician continues to practice clinically.


In 2014, a large multi-specialty healthcare system engaged Coker Group to assist with the interim management of their Chief Financial Officer position. The assignment also included conducting a national search for filling the position permanently. Coker vetted several candidates and then agreed to place into the role a full-time Coker employee with extensive experience as a CFO and CEO of several healthcare organizations.

The interim CFO assignment was filled within a week of the discussions. The acting executive immediately faced several issues: declining revenues in several important service lines, and languishing growth and business development initiatives in critical service areas (cardiac services and orthopedics).

Over the next four months, the interim CFO was able to advance many of the stalled initiatives. By performing successfully as CFO, he was asked to assume the role of interim CEO for the system’s flagship hospital, upon the resignation of its CEO. Now, with the CFO position vacant, Coker provided another experienced interim candidate as CFO, again within a week.

Utilizing the skill set from many previous CFO and CEO assignments, the interim candidates quickly aligned with other members of the health system’s senior management team. They expeditiously identified and prioritized opportunities to align costs, increase reimbursement, challenge charge master assumptions, and analyze service line margin contributions. This engagement provided an example of collaboration to the other C-Suite members, as previously they had not worked with their peers and subordinates, creating a silo mentality regarding routine tasks and operational responsibilities.

This case denotes how interim executives can enter into an organization and guide it successfully through uncertain times. It also demonstrates how the right interim leader can take ownership of an acting role and consider it his or her full-time position. The successful leader is versatile and can work at many positions, often assuming greater responsibilities. Ultimately, the CFO and CEO positions were filled permanently as a result of the executive search, and the organization lost no momentum during its conduct.


Immediate replacement versus interim management is a consideration for every board and executive team that must fill a vacancy in its executive positions, with advantages and disadvantages for both options. Each vacancy in healthcare leadership offers a unique challenge. Consider the options, reflect on the personalities of the existing executive management, the political climate of the organization, and the skills and expertise needed before making a decision.

Should I pursue professional credentialing?


I need to start this article with a disclaimer.  I am HIGHLY BIASED in favor of professional credentialing.  If this is offensive to you, stop reading this now.  I am fairly well credentialed.  I have a Masters of Business Administration degree and a Doctorate of Science in Healthcare Administration.  I hold Fellowship certifications from both the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) and the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).  I hold HFMA certifications in Managed Care and Patient Financial Services (PFS).  I am in the first class to be certified by HFMA in managed care and I was the national valedictorian in my HFMA PFS exam class.  I served a sentence on HFMA’s Board of Examiners (BOE) including a year as Chairman of the BOE.  The BOE is responsible for HFMA’s professional certification program.  Other than this, I have not done much to improve myself professionally or promote professional certification.

Lest this come across as self aggrandizing, you should know that I had a rough time in high school but ended up being the first in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree and that undergraduate degree was bestowed by The University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce.  One of the highlights of my service to the healthcare profession is my service on HFMA’s BOE.  A number of changes to the HFMA certification process occurred during my service on the Board and as the Chairman of the BOE that I am very proud of.  Changes that were focused on making the certification process more objective and making the preparation process more efficient.

You’re damn right I think credentialing is important.

What are Interim Executive Services anyway?


Interim EXECUTIVE SERVICES is temporary consulting service provided in or to the executive suite of an organization.  Executive Services is differentiated from other interim services based on the reporting relationship of the Interim Executive.  If the Interim Executive is reporting to the Board of Directors or CEO, they are engaged in Executive Services as opposed to other interims or temps that are working at lower levels in the organization.  The differentiating factor about Executive Services is that the work is more strategic and cognitive in focus as opposed to task orientated, supervised activities carried out by most of the interims an organization will typically engage.  There is a lot more at risk with an Interim Executive providing Executive Services.  Typically, billing rates are higher and the potential of the Interim Executive to have a profound effect on the organization is much higher.  An organization engaging Executive Services has the right to expect a lot more from an sophisticated Executive Services Interim than they would from someone picked to just fill a slot temporarily.

Interview with Ray Snead: The Need for Interim Executive Finance Management to Support the Finance Function of Today


Ray Snead


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