To fill someone’s shoes is an old idiom that is used in a number of ways. In some situations, it means to step up to the plate and do the job as well as the person before you. At other times, it might be used to denote that someone has performed at a job so exceptionally that it will be difficult to replace them. ‘He/She has been with the company so long and developed so many strategies that I doubt we will ever be able to fill his/her shoes’. Wow! What a compliment! Sounds like the next person in line will definitely have BIG SHOES to fill!
This could be a scary thought for the person taking over and yet what a challenge! How will you accomplish this? The first important aspect is to be yourself. You are unique and bring your own talents/expertise to the table. You do not want to put yourself in the position of pretending to be ‘just like the one before you…a clone’. Easing into the position, letting everyone know that you are supportive of your predecessor’s accomplishments, that you are collaborative, and then genuinely sharing a few of your own innovations is a good place to start. The operative word here is a few. The team will need some time to adjust to new ideas and ways of doing business. Rome wasn’t built or rebuilt in a day. Time is on your side. Slowing your pace to a steady forward trajection, finding your allies, and open communication in a collaborative leadership style will go a long way.
In the long run, shoes are just shoes; people are just people; and opportunities are just that……opportunities to do your best and create with PURPOSE.
Have you been in position to fill someone else’s shoes in a job, family or friendship? I think the ideas above apply to any ‘shoe’ situation.