The calendar tells us December has arrived, which often means winding down to end the year, worrying more about the next holiday open house or the annual office party.
But it’s a different story for the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, which just said goodbye to departing President and CEO Joe Raso. Now the RBA is moving into the hiring process for Raso’s replacement, which could be methodical — or, then again, perhaps not.
On one hand, they aren’t looking at a lengthy timeline, if only because the Business Alliance’s board leaders already have made it clear they intend to hire someone who lives in the Colorado Springs area.
That means no nationwide search, no posting the position across the country, no potential dealings with headhunters, no pushing local business leaders in their midst to cast wide nets reaching out to their personal networks looking for potential applicants.
We also know that a good-sized group of serious candidates quickly made their interest known to Business Alliance leaders, as outgoing board chair Tom Neppl of Springs Fabrication has confirmed (without revealing any specific names).
But there’s a new possible wrinkle that could affect the timing — if not the eventual outcome.
Initially, when announcing Raso’s departure, the RBA’s news release indicated an interim replacement would be chosen to lead the operation while the board considered the permanent hire. That made a lot of sense, not to rush such an important decision with the organization’s future on the line.
Now, though, we’re hearing it might not happen that way. Some, if not many, of the Business Alliance’s leaders apparently are taking the approach that they hope the interim choice will become the permanent CEO.
Intentionally or not, that sends some mixed, potentially confusing messages. Does it mean the RBA insiders already have someone picked out as Raso’s long-term successor? Does it mean they have someone in mind, but that person wants to see how it feels in reality before making a permanent commitment? Or does it mean the board leaders would rather use an “interim” title as a trial run from their perspective, seeing for themselves whether that person is worth keeping? Or none of the above?
Rest assured, we’re not pushing for any individual candidate to become the Business Alliance’s CEO. We’ve heard some tantalizing rumors, but all unconfirmed, so there’s no need to go there.
But we would encourage the RBA’s volunteer officers to make sure they clear up those mixed signals as they deal with their top candidates. The last thing they need at this point is to scare off someone who might be the best permanent CEO. That person might not have any interest in a “trial run” — if only because it’s impossible to settle into a new position and begin charting a different course if the status is potentially temporary.
The new CEO will encounter a heavy challenge — pulling the Business Alliance together, exuding the right mix of confidence and realism, reaching out to mend fences with elected leaders and jumping in to lead any efforts toward attracting companies to Colorado Springs. In other words, if it takes a little longer to find the right person, and that means an interim CEO who really is just interim, that’s no problem at all.