It’s Never Easy to Follow a Legendary Leader
Posted on October 4, 2012 by Gary Bradt
It’s never easy to follow a legendary leader, as this article on Tim Clark replacing Steve Jobs at Apple shows.
Whether it is replacing an industry rock star like Jobs, or a charismatic founder of a family firm, getting others to but into a change at the top is always a challenge.
A challenge, yes, but not impossible: Here are some tips for making it happen:
1). If you don’t buy-in, no one else will either. Believe you belong in the top spot and keep telling yourself that. If you have some self-doubts, that’s normal. Almost all senior leaders in a vulnerable moment will tell you they do. But don’t give in to your doubts. Put minimal energy into second guessing yourself. Learn from mistakes and move on.
2). Don’t try to be like your predecessor. You have your own style and way of doing things. Trust your instincts, and your track record. Choose a management and leadership style that works for you, versus trying to replicate what worked for those who came before. Rise and fall on your own merits and demerits, versus trying to be someone or something you are not. The latter is a certain recipe for failure. The former gives you a fighting chance for success.
3). Know what to keep. While you always want to be yourself, it is important to know what not to change. Certain core values, some traditions, and cherished company folklore- you’d do best to not mess with those. People will more readily accept and follow you, if you demonstrate you know and care about what matters most to them.
4). Expect criticism no matter what you do. It will take time for others to adjust to you as the leader. Inevitably there will be complaints you aren’t doing it right, which is a natural reaction to a leader different from what they have known before. Over time these complaints will subside, especially as they see your strategies and tactics driving success.
5). Give yourself time. Going through change is like planting a garden – you have to let nature take its course. Rushing will do you no good. So make a plan and stick to it, making adjustments along the way as necessary. Remember, you got this job because someone believed in you. Stay the course and reap the rewards.
Change always creates hidden opportunities. The challenge is to unearth them. In his book, The Ring in the Rubble, Dr. Gary Bradt reveals the secrets to moving beyond the rubble of disruption, fear and uncertainty that change creates and finding the golden ring of opportunity the lies beneath – in short, to adapt and ignite. Read more »
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