5 reasons why interim leadership is tailor-made for paternity maternity cover


No matter a country’s paternity laws, no matter a company’s maternity policies, there is no hard-and-fast rule on what parental leave will look like and how long it will last for. Every case is different.

For CEO-Founders trying to scale a company, that makes planning cover even harder. However, the flexibility and design of interim and fractional leadership makes it the perfect solution for paternity and maternity cover. Here’s five reasons why.

1. Seamless transition

Unlike a sudden resignation, parental leave is not a surprise – you know there’s a baby on the way and you have a rough idea of the due date. Instead of trying to juggle the gap internally, CEO-Founders can take on an interim leader for a short period of time to cover the exact roles and responsibilities.

Interim leaders are particularly suited to maternity cover as they are used to bridging gaps,  have no desire for the job full-time, are accustomed to getting up to speed quickly and do not disrupt a carefully-honed company culture or leadership dynamic. What’s more, they can start working with the departing leader in the weeks before their leave – i.e. attending a few introductory calls and team meetings, and learning about processes – so they can hit the ground running on Day 1.

2. Flexible return

In the UK, employees can take up to 52 weeks maternity leave – evenly split between 26 weeks ‘ordinary’ leave and 26 weeks ‘additional’ leave – while statutory maternity pay is paid up to 39 weeks. Shared parental leave enables a more flexible arrangement, while fathers can also take up two weeks paid paternity leave. In other words, there is no set return date for any parent. 

Interim leadership is inherently flexible. If cover is set for an initial six months, this can be shortened or lengthened on a flexible basis. The returning parent can also stagger their reintroduction by splitting their workload with the interim leader and agreeing a flexible transition that works for both of them, such as choosing to work three days per week, while the interim continues for two days per week for three months.

3. Maintains momentum

Interim leaders are used to being placed quickly, often to bridge the gap between one departing employee and finding their replacement. They tend to have reduced decision-making authority, but can steady the ship and guide the company through the cover period without losing momentum.

For example, Orbital Witness used an interim leader as maternity cover for their Head of Business Development and Customer Success. The interim leader ensured Orbital Witness continued its business development growth during that period by mentoring and coaching the junior team of BDRs and using their experience to advise on more complex deals.

4. Reduces founder pressure

When companies try to handle a parental leave gap internally, there is always a knock-on effect on capacity. This usually falls on the founder or other senior leader, who tries to make up for the shortfall while also continuing their business-critical activities. It can be stressful and counter-productive.

With an interim leader, though, founders can outsource the additional work to an experienced, external leader that they know is on the same page as them (as they will have aligned during the matching process).

5. Innovative solutions

While widespread changes during maternity/paternity cover remain unlikely, the flexibility of interim leadership and the depth of their experience can lead to innovative solutions. For instance, the interim leader might suggest new processes or solutions that can improve the team based on what worked well at a previous company. They can also use their insights and a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ to advise on other parts of the company and act as a sounding board for the CEO-Founder.

What’s more, the flexibility of interim leadership, fractional leadership and coaching, gives companies a range of consultancy and support options after the cover period has finished. Who better to provide a fresh perspective on new business decisions or help coach a new team member than someone who has already worked for your company?

Plan ahead

Is a leader going on parental leave at your company soon? If so, reach out to Scalewise three months in advance and we will:

  • Listen to your priorities and produce a brief on your best cover options. 
  • Create a shortlist of candidates based on your needs and organise interviews. 
  • Agree the contract with the interim leader and advise on a seamless transition.

To find out more, checkout how Scalewise arranged interim maternity cover for Orbital Witness.

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