Why You Should Talk with Your Predecessor

by vernsanders on June 12, 2012

One of the books that has had a big impact upon me, and on my business, is The Shaping of an Effective Leader by Gayle D. Beebe. From time to time, I go back to it, sort of like a regular visit to a physician, in order to make sure things are still on track. It is one of those books that has post-it notes hanging off the pages in all directions. Today, I found this reminder, concerning the method of evaluating a potential new position:

…Is the position you are considering a good fit, and is the context you are in at a transition point? More importantly, does the organization operate with standards of integrity you respect? Was the previous leader handled with integrity, care and respect? Remember: the way the organization treated your predecessor is the way it will eventually treat you. [emphasis mine] Like individuals, it is only a matter of time before the ingrained tendencies of organizations resurface, and we see deeper realities come to light. (page 110)

I cannot overemphasize how important it is to speak to your predecessor if at all possible. You have to use a “common sense” filter, of course, but I’ve talked with so many people who were so caught up in the “they like me” part of of the new position dance, that they ended up being short-timers. Churches in particular do not change spots quickly. If the average tenure of a former music person is less than a year going back through 3-4 new hires, I would guess that you wouldn’t want to buy a house, or unpack your bags.

Food for thought…

Forewarned is forearmed…

How about you? Got a “wish I’d talked” story? Got a “glad I talked” story?? Please leave a comment and let me learn from you.

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