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How to succeed when you have big shoes to fill?

Having big shoes to fill is a big opportunity, but also presents challenges.

Shifting to a new position or taking business risks can feel a bit nerve-wracking. 

When Tim Cook took over for Steve Jobs in 2011, Apple employees — along with shareholders and the rest of the world — doubted if he could fill his predecessor’s shoes and maintain the company’s momentum. 

While you likely won’t have the entire world watching you, taking over new tasks can have a significant impact on the business — or likely, both — can be exciting and scary at the same time. 

To increase your chances of success, implement the key strategies below.

Do your homework before you start.
You will need to get up to speed on the prerequisite knowledge. This may involve getting smart on the company’s product, a key client, an industry vertical, or functional knowledge adjacent to your area of expertise.

Be yourself.
Don’t try to be an expected personality or leadership style or be someone you’re not. Try to implement new ideas or take challenges within your limits.

Assess the team.
Given your top priorities, you’ll want to assess if you have the right team to accomplish them. 

Check your mindset.
Having big shoes to fill can make you question your own capabilities and whether you have what it takes to meet the standard set by others. Imposter syndrome is not uncommon, especially as you get more senior and are faced with completely new challenges. 

Seek ongoing feedback and support.
Create feedback loops to receive early and often what’s going well and what’s going less well, so you can make real-time adjustments, as needed.

Using the strategies above, you can prove to yourself and others that the shoes you’ve been given are just your size and you are ready for any type of challenge.