Tips for Developing a Leadership Pipeline that Actually Works

Leadership Development
Published on
April 5, 2019

A Leadership Pipeline ensures that junior employees are groomed right from the start to take on leadership roles as they gain more experience. The model ensures the continuity of a business and puts a succession plan in motion. When followed correctly, the Leadership Pipeline model not only nurtures the future leaders of the company, but also increases employee engagement. Engaged employees are known to stick with their companies longer, saving them time and resources on having to recruit new talent.

The key to enjoying all the benefits of a Leadership Pipeline is to develop a model that actually works for your company. While the strategies can be adapted to suit an organization’s particular needs, the core ingredients to a successful Leadership Pipeline remain universal. There are six steps to developing a successful Leadership Pipeline which are explained in more detail below.

Strategies for a successful Leadership Pipeline

The bottom rung: The very first step or the bottom rung of the ladder is training junior employees to move from managing just themselves to managing others as well. When these employees have shown the ability to plan and execute their own work well, they are ready to manage others. At this stage it is more about helping teammates plan and execute their own work successfully as well.

Moving up a step: After step one has been successfully mastered, the Leadership Pipeline requires that those employees shed some old responsibilities and take on new ones. The major change here is that they no longer do the same work as those they are managing, but move to exclusively managing the group as in the role of a team leader. This role requires a development of a new skillset which involves delegating work effectively to others. Only those employees capable of this task should move to this step.

Shifting roles: Those employees who have shown promise at step two now need to develop a fresh set of communication skills to be able to grasp what higher management needs from them. They are now transitioning to a phase where they no longer manage people, but mange functions. Planning, delegating, executing, and most importantly bridging the gap between junior and senior employees are all part of the skills that these employees must display.

Growing as a leader: The next step is the role of business manager. Employees who have successfully bridged the gap get to cross over and enjoy more autonomy as leaders. They are entrusted with decision making and have to show the acumen to carry out their tasks responsibly. Business managers are responsible for the bottom line and the stakes are high at this stage of their career.

More responsibility: Successful business managers can then be promoted to group managers. Group managers have the responsibility of two or more businesses entrusted to them and need to prove their efficiency in running operations at this scale. Every decision is critical and could make or break their career. However, because of the gradual training and grooming afforded by the Leadership Pipeline, only the most capable employees make it this far in the running.

Reborn as a leader: As an enterprise the fate of the whole company rests on the shoulders of the individual. When in the Leadership Pipeline these leaders know that at this stage they need to reinvent themselves as visionaries and start looking at the bigger picture. Their decisions are no longer restricted to their own company but extend outwards to even a global scale in many cases. A good enterprise leader will build for him/herself a team of direct reports that will assist in steering the ship through smooth and turbulent waters.

Following each of these stages will develop a Leadership Pipeline that actually works.

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