The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company

The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company

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by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, James Noel

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"Many of the best and most successful corporations in the world have adopted the Leadership Pipeline model as the core framework for their efforts on the human side of their businesses.

Built around the common leadership 'passages' all leaders go through, it helps organizations select, develop, and assess based on specific respon-sibilities and work values at

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"Many of the best and most successful corporations in the world have adopted the Leadership Pipeline model as the core framework for their efforts on the human side of their businesses.

Built around the common leadership 'passages' all leaders go through, it helps organizations select, develop, and assess based on specific respon-sibilities and work values at each leadership level." —from the Foreword

Strong leaders at all levels within an organization are a requisite for business success. Yet the leadership pipeline—the internal architecture for growing leaders—is often broken or nonexistent. This updated edition of the best-selling The Leadership Pipeline has been revised to help address the challenges of today's business environment. Anchored in experience, it offers a tested model for planning leadership succession and development that has proven to get results.

The authors draw on their work at more than one hundred international companies to report on what has been learned in the ten years since the first edition of The Leadership Pipeline was published. They show how a company can develop leadership in each layer of their organization by defining the different skills required as leaders move from one level to the next. They explain how time should be applied differently, how work values required for success must change, and clearly illustrate what inappropriate leadership looks like at each step. In addition, the authors answer commonly asked questions and add new insights from their in-the-field research.

The Leadership Pipeline shows how today's companies can keep their leadership "pipeline" filled and flowing to ensure a steady supply of skilled leaders throughout the organization.

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Editorial Reviews

Three business consultants explain how companies can develop leaders from their current pool of employees by developing a system that sorts out corporate roles, identifies potential, and plans development. They identify and explain six specific leadership levels that comprise their pipeline. They do not provide a bibliography. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Product Details

Publication date:
J-B US non-Franchise Leadership Series, #391
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Six Leadership Passages

The six turns in the pipeline that we'll discuss here are major events in the life of a leader. They represent significant passages that can't be mastered in a day or by taking a course. Our goal here is to help you become familiar with the skills, time applications, and work values demanded by each passage, as well as this particular leadership gestalt. Once you grasp what these passages entail and the challenges involved in making each leadership transition, you'll be in a better position to use this information to unclog your organization's leadership pipeline and facilitate your own growth as a leader. Going through these passages helps leaders build emotional strength as they take on tasks of increasing complexity and scope. The following six chapters will provide you with ideas and tools to achieve full performance at all leadership levels in your organization.

As you read about each passage, you'll naturally apply it to your own organization and may question how we've defined and divided each turn in the pipeline. The odds are that you'll immediately think of at least one (and probably more) leadership transitions that apply to your own company that we have not addressed in the Leadership Pipeline model. While there certainly are other transitions, they are too small or incomplete to qualify as a major passage. For instance, many global companies have business general managers at the country level and regional executives with responsibility for several countries. These regional executives report to a person with a title such as global consumer products head. Although this global consumer products headmanages group managers (the regional executives in this case), she isn't an enterprise manager because she reports to a CEO or president and has little accountability for corporate profit and loss matters. For our purposes here, we would categorize her as a group manager, even though she may have responsibility for other group managers.

Similarly, you may wonder why the transition from team member to team leader isn't worthy of its own passage. First, this is usually a subset of Passage One (managing self to managing others). Second, team leaders frequently lack the decision-making authority on selection and rewards that first-line managers receive. Third, team leaders usually focus on technical or professional matters (getting a project or program completed) and aren't tested in more general management areas.

Each organization is unique, and each probably has at least one leadership passage with distinctive aspects. It's likely, however, that you can fit that distinctive passage into one of our six passages. As you become more attuned to each of them, we believe you'll see how they apply to your own situation and organization. If there is a passage in your business that doesn't fit our model, create your own definition of the transition and tell us about it.

Passage One: From Managing Self to Managing Others

New, young employees usually spend their first few years with an organization as individual contributors. Whether they're in sales, accounting, engineering, or marketing, their skill requirements are primarily technical or professional. They contribute by doing the assigned work within given time frames and in ways that meet objectives. By sharpening and broadening their individual skills, they make increased contributions and are then considered "promotable" by organizations. From a time application standpoint, the learning involves planning (so that work is completed on time), punctuality, content, quality, and reliability. The work values to be developed include acceptance of the company culture and adopting professional standards. When people become skilled individual contributors who produce good results-especially when they demonstrate an ability to collaborate with others-they usually receive additional responsibilities. When they demonstrate an ability to handle these responsibilities and adhere to the company's values, they are often promoted to first-line manager.

When this happens, they are at Passage One. Though this might seem like an easy, natural leadership passage, it's often one where people trip. The highest-performing people, especially, are reluctant to change; they want to keep doing the activities that made them successful. As a result, people make the job transition from individual contributor to manager without making a behavioral or value-based transition. In effect, they become managers without accepting the requirements. Many consultants, for instance, have skipped this turn, moving from transitory team leadership to business leader without absorbing much of the leaming in between. The result, when business leaders miss this passage, is frequently disaster.

The skills people should learn at this first leadership passage include planning work, filling jobs, assigning work, motivating, coaching, and measuring the work of others. First-time managers need to learn how to reallocate their time so that they not only complete their assigned work but also help others perform effectively. They cannot allocate all of their time to putting out fires, seizing opportunities, and handling tasks themselves. They must shift from "doing" work to getting work done through others.

Reallocating time is an especially difficult transitional requirement for first-time managers. Part of the problem is that many neophyte managers still prefer to spend time on their "old" work, even as they take charge of a group. Yet the pressure to spend less time on individual work and more time on managing will increase at each passage, and if people don't start making changes in how they...

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