Today, Direct Selling is more than just about promoting a product, it's about delivering value through a curated journey by engaging people on a much deeper level, and developing a rich customer experience. Over the last several years we have watched this shift occur and have seen the industry pivot, and the companies that place experience, engagement and empathy at the core of their mission and values are leading in Direct Selling 2.0. In our previous article, we talked about why this is happening and the type of leadership required to navigate this shift, but just as the industry continues to evolve demand for a new talent model has arisen for Direct Selling 2.0. This is the rise of the Fractional Leader.
What Is Fractional Talent?
Fractional Talent (also referred to as Interim Leaders or Interim Leadership) is exactly what it sounds like, hiring or onboarding a senior leader to work on a fractional, contract or part-time basis. Some critics may point back to the late 2000’s claiming that Fractional Talent is a reboot of “The Gig Economy,” which may have hurt many Direct Selling companies and organizations in the past. But, Fractional Talent provides value in a much different way to companies. From a business and human capital investment perspective, Fractional Talent converts the fixed cost of permanently hiring and onboarding a senior leader into a variable shorter-term cost. This affords companies the flexibility to adapt, pivot and better forecast for their bottom line for the future months and quarters ahead, while leveraging the leadership of a seasoned leader.
Fractional Leaders are part-time consultants that are scoped to work a set number of hours per week or month and are contracted usually between 6 months - 2 years. From a company perspective, since Fractional Leaders are scoped a certain number of hours per week or month, they are not full-time employees and therefore do not require the same obligations from an employer. For example, some Direct Selling companies will hire a Fractional Leader when they are embarking on a multi-year, multi-departmental initiative that will require expert management and oversight (such as implementing a new CRM, or launching a new product or service), or hire a Fractional Leader to fill a leadership gap while they find a suitable permanent replacement to fill that leadership role. As we head into the next few quarters, Fractional Talent will continue to grow in demand and provide a foolproof solution for a lot of leadership and skills gaps that will continue to widen across the board.
Why Fractional Talent Now?
Over the past year we have seen significant gaps at the leadership level, especially in Direct Selling. As more senior and legacy leaders retire, Direct Selling organizations will need to be prepared and strategic about finding and hiring the right permanent leader to lead and fill that void and voice within the organization. Hiring for a C-Level executive is an incredibly special and delicate effort, and should not be rushed. In some cases it may take upwards of 6 months or a year to find and onboard the best fit candidate to that C-Level position. Additionally, if a senior executive departs an organization there is opportunity to reimagine and re-envision the role itself and develop it to more closely align with the strategic direction of the company. This can also add time to finding a new C-Level executive. These potential delays will also be impacted by a softening candidate market, as highly qualified leaders in Direct Selling are less inclined to take a risk and make a career move at this time. As a result, a Direct Selling company cannot afford to let this leadership role remain empty for an indefinite amount of time. A Fractional Leader can step-in, manage, lead and provide direction in the interim as a search is undertaken for a more permanent replacement.
What Is The Benefit Of Fractional Talent?
As we discussed in a previous article, Direct Selling 2.0 represents a shift in mindset within the industry as we continue to move away from traditional channels, management and even reward structures. To remain competitive and innovative, Direct Selling 2.0 requires a fresh perspective and diversity of thought at a much deeper level to spot new opportunities for change and growth - and this is where Fractional Leaders accelerate innovation and change.
Fractional Leaders are driven and motivated by learning, new experiences and delivering results quickly. Their external industry and industry adjacent experience they bring to the table will help transform the team and organization rapidly and efficiently. These Fractional Leaders thrive on driving for impact quickly and can therefore effect change quickly. For many Fractional Leaders, the flexibility of a Fractional Leadership role offers them the variety they seek to expand their insights, knowledge and skill sets. Since Fractional Roles are typically shorter-term engagements, Fractional Leaders are challenged to bring about change and sustainable solutions within a shorter time frame.
How To Hire Fractional Talent or Fractional Leaders?
At Hanna Shea we work with thousands of highly experienced leaders, many of whom are open to Fractional Leadership engagements and excited at the prospect of delivering value through this talent model. Additionally, since we have established relationships with many of these highly qualified and driven leaders, the search process for a Fractional Leader is much shorter than a typical executive search. With our shortlisted candidates already on hand and available, we have placed Fractional Leaders within Direct Selling companies in under 2 weeks. Fractional Talent can help close and prevent leadership gaps in a number of useful ways and situations - get in touch with us to learn more about hiring Fractional Leaders and Fractional Talent for Direct Selling.
About The Author
As CEO, Sean leads the organization to build lasting relationships with company leaders within the direct selling industry and provide quality service to meet the needs of clients. Sean also likes to spend time outdoors and traveling with his family.