The Rise of Fractional Leadership: Is a Fractional Executive the Right Hire for Your Business?

To fill critical gaps on their leadership teams, especially during times of transformational growth, more organizations are turning to fractional executives to round out their C-suites. 

In this blog, we’re answering some frequently asked questions about fractional executives and sharing some of the reasons why businesses are considering this type of hire. 

Who is utilizing fractional executives? 

A fractional executive can bring value to any organization, but there are two types that likely stand to benefit the most. 

  • Many venture capital, family office, and private equity firms hire fractional executives on a very part-time or seasonal basis to assist with evaluating prospective startup investments. In these scenarios, the fractional leader—sometimes referred to as an entrepreneur- or executive-in-residence—is typically rounding out the firm’s industry knowledge or providing a unique perspective that doesn’t already exist within the leadership team. They might also hire a fractional executive to advise them on one or more of their current portfolio companies that’s in need of an experienced leader or not quite ready to hire a full-time executive. 
  • Founders of midmarket, growing companies often hire fractional executives to help them navigate new product launches, prepare the business for sale, expand internationally, or raise capital. Sometimes, a fractional leader is hired on an interim basis in the event of an untimely departure that will take some time to fill. In other cases, these privately held companies need someone that can provide expertise and a roadmap to take their business to the next level. 

Related: Should You Hire Fractional Executives at Your Startup? 

Which roles can a fractional executive fulfill? 

When fractional leadership first began to emerge, businesses primarily outsourced specialized roles like Chief Financial Officers and Chief Marketing Officers. Today, fractional executives can be found in a wider variety of roles, including Chief Operating Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Growth/Sales Officer, and Chief Human Resources Officer, among others. 

Related: 7 Interview Questions to Ask Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Candidates 

What makes a good fractional executive? 

Unlike consultants, fractional executives are embedded and accountable members of their leadership teams, according to Chief Executive. The most effective fractional executives are those who can hit the ground running and immediately begin to address the obstacles or challenges an organization is facing. 

Fractional leaders are often former executives or consultants who can offer high-level, strategic guidance, adapt quickly, and work collaboratively. 

How can a fractional leader benefit my organization? 

Aside from filling important skill gaps on your leadership team, there are numerous key benefits to hiring a fractional executive, such as: 

  • Cost savings: A fractional leader, working fewer hours than a full-time hire, comes at a fraction of the price of a typical C-suite executive. This makes fractional leadership a great option for growing companies that may not be ready to invest in a full-time executive. 
  • Agility: A fractional leader should be brought on with specific goals in mind and, as a result, be able to act quickly. Fractional executives can be a great resource for organizations that are focused on achieving shorter-term objectives. 
  • Quicker ramp-up to productivity: While the onboarding period for a full-time executive can take months, a fractional leader will be ready to jump in more quickly.  
  • Lower risk: Because fractional executives are focused on narrowly defined, specific objectives, they can pose less risk than someone with broader, more open-ended responsibilities. 
  • Track record of success: A good fractional executive, especially one who has been doing this for awhile or has previous experience working as a consultant, will be able to use their outside knowledge and industry relationships to help your business reach its goals—whether that’s accelerating the sales cycle or streamlining existing business operations. 

What are the potential pitfalls of hiring a fractional executive? 

A fractional executive usually dedicates a fixed number of hours to your organization each week or month, which means limited access. As such, their role and responsibilities may also be more narrowly defined than a full-time employee’s. Depending on your organizational culture and needs, this setup may not be the best option for your team.  

How much will it cost to hire a fractional executive? 

When hiring a fractional executive, you’re paying for their top-tier knowledge and expertise. As such, they can bill $300 to $500+ per hour. Typically, fractional executives are hired for a minimum of three months—anywhere from 20 to 40 hours per month—and work virtually. Businesses should expect to pay more if the executive is required to be onsite. 


For companies undergoing periods of growth and transformation, hiring a fractional executive can be a great move—and our team at TalentRise can help you find the leader that meets your needs. To learn more about our fractional executive placement services, contact us today. 

Related: Why Do Companies Use Executive Search Firms? 

This blog was authored by Carl Kutsmode, Senior Vice President of TalentRise and Viaduct

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