06 December 2023

Strategic Staffing: Leveraging Fractional Leadership For Competitive Advantage

The full version of this article on fractional leadership originally appeared on Forbes.com as one of CEO Christine Pilkington’s contributions as a member of the Forbes Business Council. 

What is Fractional Leadership?

A few years ago, a colleague updated her profile, announcing she had been hired as a fractional VP of sales and marketing for a fintech startup based here in Vancouver. It was 2015, and while I had heard the word “fractional” applied to property ownership, this was the first time I had seen it in conjunction with a job role.

It made sense: The startup needed executive leadership in this area, but they were not ready to make a financial commitment to a full-time hire and instead opted for a portion—or “fraction”—of my colleague’s time. In addition, my colleague wanted to proudly display her new role but still signaled that she was open to additional contracts. 

Clearly, this fractional arrangement was a win-win—and more businesses are adopting it. Google searches for “fractional CMO” are up 337% in 2022 compared to 2021. Unsurprisingly, “fractional CFO” is up 535% in the same time period. Startups, in particular, need to prepare their business for investment but lack the financial expertise to compile the necessary paperwork to make their enterprise investment ready.

How fractional leadership can make an impact on your team.

Why Are Businesses Hiring Fractional Leaders?

With the rise of remote work and distributed teams, hiring options are more flexible than ever.

Fractional employment or resourcing is a working relationship where a business hires an individual for a specific portion of their time rather than engaging them on a full-time basis, generally on a contract basis. Businesses are able to hire fractional workers for particular duties or projects without the obligations of a long-term employment agreement.

While freelancing has been around since the dawn of time, “fractional” as a term seems to be most typically applied to resources who are entrenched within the company rather than a resource hired to work on very short-term, one-off projects.

Fractional leaders are frequently indistinguishable from full-time, permanent team members. They usually occupy a spot on your org chart and take on processes generally reserved for internal team members: They often adopt email addresses, appear as leaders on a company’s About webpage, participate in internal operations and processes and even lead business units.

Fractional leadership working together with the wider team.

Should You Hire A Fractional Leader? 

To find out why you should consider adding fractional talent to your leadership team, read the rest of the article here.