• Anna Conrad

3 Tips to Succeed When Your Predecessor Was a Star


Starting a new job can be stressful whether an internal promotion or at a new organization. I often get hired to coach the successors of promoted executive clients. This transition is even more intimidating if they are taking over for someone highly respected and successful. When this happens, we don’t try to make duplicates of the leader that left. Instead, we suggest the following:

  • Embrace your unique personality or leadership style. Don’t try to mimic the other person. Being yourself will earn respect and help preempt any comparisons.

  • Identify and manage critical relationships. This requires not only knowing who the people with influence are (and not just the ones with the big titles), but also what they care most about, what they expect from you, and what concerns they might have.

  • Seek feedback. Ask trusted colleagues to share early and often what's going well or not. This will help you make real-time adjustments.

Filling someone else's big shoes may make you question your abilities and if you can meet the standard set by your predecessor. You will succeed if you focus on your strengths and what you know you bring to the role.