Shortlist Digest: What Would My Replacement Do? (November 2023)

2 min readNov 22, 2023

At Shortlist Search, we have helped hire a lot of senior leaders. At any given time, we’re likely working on 70+ C-suite or senior exec searches for startups and social impact orgs across Africa. Often these are new positions in the organization, but sometimes they’re replacements for someone who has left or didn’t work out.

These moments of transition from one leader to another presents a special opportunity to rethink business as usual. It’s a time to reflect: what could we do differently or better? How can we refocus our energies on the right problem(s)? What can we now do that was tough to do before?

But why wait to get replaced in order to get that boost?

I’ve found it can be a great practice to periodically ask yourself: “What would my replacement do?” In other words, if someone was to come and take my position tomorrow, what would they do differently? What would they look at and say: geez, that’s not working, we need to fix that. Or: why the heck were we doing things this way, it would be so much easier to do it this other way. Or: it’s so clear to me that the most important thing to get done this quarter is X, so let’s focus all our resources there.

I find the WWRD question liberates us to think about some of our most persistent and pesky challenges in a new light. I’ve occasionally realized there’s actually a pretty obvious answer to a seemingly intractable issue — I just needed to see past a blind spot, or inertia, or sunk cost illogic. So try asking yourself: what would my replacement do? What might you be able to show up tomorrow and do differently? What problem has been bothering you or opportunity has been knocking on your door that you might take a fresh look at?

Ultimately, it’s an opportunity to replace yourself with a better version of you.

Happy hiring,





Shortlist provides Executive Search services and workforce development programming to impact-focused companies in Africa and beyond.