When Elson S. Floyd died of colon cancer in 2015, he had been president of Washington State University for eight years. Daniel J. Bernardo intervened as an interim president and served for a year. He was a rector at that time and had also begun in that position as interim. He learned some lessons in his intermediate roles and is naturally interested in the role of presidents, exhibitions and others that serve in temporary positions in higher education.

He has written a guide for those who may be thinking of assuming an interim: The Interim: a Guide to Transition Leadership in Higher Education (Washington State University Press). The book presents step by step of the problems facing an interim leader. Bernardo is a defender of acting as a permanent president in the role of intermediate problems and not letting the permanent president finally handle.

He answered questions about the book by email.


P: Who is an interim leader for a university? What kind of qualities should look for a university?

A: Successful intermediate leaders come from a variety of background and use many different leadership styles. In general, the same qualities that make a good leader also apply to interimes; However, some qualities that stood out as important for intermediates were:

  • Experienced: experience provides credibility and allows leaders to quickly evaluate complex organization situations.
  • Disinterested: Intermediate leaders must be motivated to serve the organization, not themselves. Since a key role is to pave the way for the next leader, they must possess the attitude "it is not about me, it is the organization."
  • Excellent communicator and collaborator: communication is always important, but it is particularly true for intermediate leaders, who must listen well and quickly establish relationships. Answer.
  • P: Should an interim leader not be a candidate for work permanently?

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    A: I don't think anyone is ruled out for an interim position because they may want to be candidates for permanent position. Some universities have policies that prevent Interimes from requesting permanent work, but I don't see wisdom in these restrictions. Obviously, such policies reduce the group of qualified candidates available to serve in an interim paper. In addition, an interim role gives the candidate and the organization the opportunity to evaluate their suitability with each other. Sometimes people accept an interim role in which they have no long -term interest, just to discover that they really enjoy work. Therefore, it is useful to have that option available.

    P: More universities lately seem to be choosing an interim leader for two years, not just the time to find a permanent leader. What do you think of this trend?

    A: I like it. The main thesis of this book is that internal leaders should not be position markers, but must boldly conduct and in a similar way to a permanent designated. To the extent that designating an interim leader for a period of two years provides more credibility and a longer period to execute an action plan, these longer appointments can be positive for the organization.

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