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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Together, these authors have more first-hand experience in leadership development and succession planning than you're likely to find anywhere else. And here, they show companies how to create a pipeline of talent that will continuously fill their leadership needs-needs they may not even yet realize. The Leadership Pipeline delivers a proven framework for priming

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Together, these authors have more first-hand experience in leadership development and succession planning than you're likely to find anywhere else. And here, they show companies how to create a pipeline of talent that will continuously fill their leadership needs-needs they may not even yet realize. The Leadership Pipeline delivers a proven framework for priming future leaders by planning for their development, coaching them, and measuring the results of those efforts. Moreover, the book presents a combination leadership-development/succession-planning program that ensures a steady line-up of leaders for every critical position within the company. It's an approach that bolsters the retention of intellectual capital as it eliminates the need to go outside for expensive "stars," who will probably jump ship before they reach their full potential anyway.

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, #23
Product dimensions:
6.44(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.96(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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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A great book. The Leadership Pipeline is an invaluable resource for developing leaders at all levels in today's competitive business environment."—J.W. Marriott, Jr., chairman of the board and CEO, Marriott International

"These concepts have been tremendously influential in shaping my leadership approach and in building cohesive leadership teams at many levels."—Robert L. Nardelli, president and CEO, GE Power Systems

"People everywhere are talking about the war for talent. This book provides a framework for assessing and developing your own internal pipeline for leadership talent." —Norman C. Walker, head of human resources, Novartis International AG

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Leadership Pipeline 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
1000_Character_Reviews More than 1 year ago
I have mixed feelings about "The Leadership Pipeline." On one side, I think this is a brilliant take on the different stages that leaders of all levels should step through in order to be their most effective. It also makes a compelling argument about what happens to companies that don't make sure their leaders are ready before they advance to the next level. The chapter on succession planning is highly valuable. On the other hand though...the ideas presented are too mechanical in nature. The temptation for a lazy organization would be to degenerate the framework presented here into an absurd checklist used to evaluate past achievements...but without evaluating skills. I worked in a company (Newmont Mining) that took this route...and frankly the results were poor. Great leaders weren't promoted because they didn't meet the "checklist" and incompetent leaders were moved up because they had something in their past that met the checklist. A fascinating and ground-breaking concept...but be very careful that you implement it correctly.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Organizations need leaders, but natural leaders are at least as rare as natural athletes. And, even natural athletes need careful training and development ¿ given that almost everyone is capable of developing some degree of athletic potential. Similarly, the right training and development program can help almost anyone cultivate some degree of leadership potential. In fact, it can help a few people develop extraordinary leadership abilities. Ignoring leadership development is foolish, but at many companies, short-term priorities eclipse the long-term thinking needed to develop a good leadership pipeline. This book¿s plain, sensible approach is simple without being simplistic. It is generally lucid and clear, and ¿ somewhat to our surprise ¿ it does not suffer from having three authors. If you are a leader or need to develop leaders for large corporations, this is a very useful volume.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What do General Electric, Citigroup, and Marriott International have in common? They have built on the original conceptual work by Walt Mahler at General Electric to establish sustainable methods to developing management breadth and depth. This valuable book outlines the key principles of that current best practice. At a time when more and more companies are relying on headhunters to bring in leaders and management turnover is soaring among young talent, 'growing your own' leaders is about to become a necessary core competence for the future. While almost everyone who is interested in the subject has read glossy articles about what General Electric does at its Crotonville facility, this book provides the core of the broader management process behind those articles. The first part of the book focuses on six key transitions that help a leader develop. The second part shows you how to diagnose how individual leaders are doing, and how to help them make better progress. The six transitions are: from managing yourself to managing others from managing others to managing managers from managing managers to functional managing from functional managing to business managing from business managing to group managing from group managing to enterprise managing. At each transition, what the individual values and focuses on has to change dramatically. In organizations where this transition is not made explicit, you get almost all of the managers in the organization 'stuck' doing things the wrong way, still looking from the perspective of their last job. That's the stuff that Dilbert and the Peter Principle are made of. Although the book takes a large organization's point of view, in various places the points are translated into a small organizational context. Based on my experience with leaders at all these levels, I certainly agree with the authors' points about the key challenges involved. I also think that their diagnostic methods are good. In most cases, the root cause for the problem lies further up in the organization with someone who is not focusing or working on helping managers develop. The key weakness of the book is that in some elements the reader with limited business experience will still not be sure what to do. For example, the step from a functional manager to a business manager requires integrating all of the functions and perspectives in order to be successful. That is an enormous leap in knowledge, expertise, and experience. Although business school cases will help those with that experience, most managers will find it impossible to make the transition unless the business is very undemanding -- something that seldom happens any more. My own experience suggests that basic learning has to be pursued throughout the organization that emphasizes skills like problem solving, locating and implementing the next generation of best practices, and developing a deep understanding of how to create superior business processes as the foundation for this kind of leadership development program. In advanced companies, you can add the concept of having people develop skills for innovating new business models. Then, this leadership development process can become truly powerful. However you decide to go about it, the examples of setbacks and progress outlined in this excellent book will improve your ability to think about improving leadership in your organization. I urge you to read, consider, and apply what you learn. After you have finished thinking about and using the book, I suggest that you also think about where else in your company you do not have a management process to do something important. For example, do you have a management process to keep you aligned with powerful trends beyond your control? Do you have a management process to create superior business models? Be all the leader you can be! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Perce