Preparing business leaders to fill the leadership pipeline

It is widely acknowledged in business that the demand for top-notch leadership talent far exceeds available supply. This demand-supply gap is attributable to several macro-factors such as globalization, the “New Economy” and of course, the Information Technology revolution. Equally important is the fact that too many organisations don’t invest in the time, resources and the processes required to build a “Leadership Pipeline” and develop leaders at all levels that will provide the organisation with more people prepared to take on leadership roles.

In their hugely successful book, “The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build The Leadership Powered Company”, authors Ram Charan, Steve Drotter and Jim Noel show how companies can keep this pipeline “filled and flowing to ensure a steady supply of skilled leaders throughout the organisation”.

Leadership-Pipeline-Model

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They highlight the different skills required for leaders moving from one level to another (six levels in all in their model, as shown in the figure below—though this could vary depending on the size and nature of the business). The progress of a leader through the various stages should be not only be accompanied with appropriate skill enhancements but also changes to how the leader applies time and work values for success.

As an executive leadership coaching company , we are particularly interested in what the authors say regarding the final step in the leadership passage, from being a Group Manager to an Enterprise Manager. Here are some relevant excerpts from the aforementioned book that clearly highlight the requirements and challenges with such leadership development and transition.

The transition during the sixth passage is much more focused on values than skills. To an even greater extent than at previous levels, people must re-invent their self-concept as an enterprise manager. As leaders of an institution, they must be long-term, visionary thinkers. At the same time, they must develop operating mechanisms to know and drive quarter-by-quarter performance that is in tune with longer-term strategy. The trade-offs involved can be mind-bending, and enterprise leaders learn to value these trade-offs. In addition, this new leadership role often requires well-developed external sensitivity and the ability to manage external constituencies, sense significant external shifts, and do something about them proactively.

…..their performance as a CEO will be based on three or four high leverage decisions annually; they must set these three or four mission-critical priorities and focus on them. There’s a subtle but fundamental shift in responsibility from strategic to visionary thinking and from an operations to a global perspective. There is also a “letting go” process that should take place during this process if it hasn’t taken place previously. Enterprise leaders must let go of the pieces and focus on the whole (How well do we conceive, develop, produce and market all products to all customers?).

Finally, at this level a CEO must assemble a team of high-achieving and ambitious direct reports, knowing that some of them want his job and picking them for the team despite this knowledge.

Leadership pipeline problems occur at this level for two common reasons:

• CEOs are often unaware that this is a significant passage that requires changes in values
• It’s difficult to develop a CEO for this particular leadership transition.

At Thought Perfect, we believe that building a strong leadership pipeline requires early identification of leadership potential and then helping such leaders realise their full potential with effective coaching. Using a proven leadership assessment system and a proprietary coaching methodology designed to equip business leaders with complete clarity of thought, we help organisations address one of the most pressing challenges they face: that of effective leadership operating to its fullest potential.

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