The Chairman of Nokia on Managing His Replacement

The danger of being promoted is micromanaging your replacement.

What if you feel more skilled than your replacement? What if your replacement doesn’t do things the way you would do them?

To make matters worse, you may feel threatened when asked to manage a highly skilled replacement.

your replacement won't do things right because you know how to do his job

Managing your replacement:

Leaders face the extremes of pulling away too far or micromanaging when they manage their replacements.

Finding balance:

The current Chairman of Nokia became the interim CEO of Nokia for two years. After two years he returned to his position as Chairman. Upon his return as Chairman of the Board, he managed the CEO who replaced him.

Here are his thoughts.

“You never find the perfect balance exactly. You’re always off in some direction. But if you do it together – you talk about it frequently enough – you adjust and you correct.

And you are happy even if you are off balance. Both parties are happy because you know that each person is doing his or her best to re-find that right balance and adjust and take feedback.” Risto Siilasmaa, Nokia Chairman

  1. Reflect on the last time you let go of a role.
  2. Over-correction is normal. Admit past over-corrections. Monitor new ones.
  3. Discuss challenges and opportunities openly and frequently.
  4. Adapt and adjust.
  5. Keep organizational interests in the forefront.

Balancing involvement with your replacement is a collaborative process that’s never perfectly achieved.

What tips do you have for managing your replacement?


Read Siilasmaa’s new book: Transforming NOKIA: The Power of Paranoid Optimism to Lead Through Colossal Change.

Connect with Risto:

Twitter: @rsiilasmaa

Facebook: Risto Siilasmaa

In his own words:

Risto Siilasmaa on moving from Chairman to CEO and back to Chairman: