Magazine article Management Today

Crash Course in ... Succeeding a Star Performer

Magazine article Management Today

Crash Course in ... Succeeding a Star Performer

Article excerpt

Pity Tim Cook. He's got the greatest job going as CEO of Apple Only trouble is, the person who had it before was Steve Jobs - an act that's almost impossible to follow. So how do you take over a leadership role from a star performer without remaining forever in his shadow?

Look and learn. 'Spend time with your predecessor and understand where he or she focused and why it has been a success,' says Peter Shaw, executive coach at Praesta and author of Getting the Balance Right. 'I'd want to understand from others why people were regarded as stars. Was it about what they did, or how they did it?' This will help you to understand what your team's expectations are and how much direction they'll need.

Don't be overawed. 'You've been chosen in a rigorous process and if it's been done well, you will have been told why you are the right person for the job,' says Simon Mitchell, UK general manager of development company DDI. 'Go in with that confidence - it will be easier for you to be authentic to yourself.'

Cultivate the connection. An endorsement from your predecessor can only be helpful. As is using him or her as a sounding board, says Terry Bacon, scholar in residence for the Korn/Ferry Institute in Colorado. 'You can't defer - especially publicly - or people will think you are a puppet,' he adds.

Be opportunistic. If everything is going well, don't shake things up for the sake of it. The opportunity will arise to act decisively, says Shaw. 'In most jobs, a new challenge or crisis will happen within a few weeks.'

Put skills first. …

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