What is a leadership pipeline and how to become a high-level leader – WAU
Leadership pipeline is a model for the development of leaders developed by renowned business consultant Ram Charan. The methodology starts from the understanding that leadership is not an unfit skill, that is, it can be learned and developed. Thus, Charan structures 6 fundamental steps, which we explore in this article.
Leadership – this is one of the qualities most coveted by managers when they map the market in search of new employees, or even when they look internally for raw talents. Is not for nothing. Finding the right professional to lead teams or conduct projects is the key to a people management efficient.
But, after all, who are these leaders? Although some still believe the opposite, leadership is not a skill that is necessarily a natural gift. This means that, potentially, any individual can develop the characteristics necessary to occupy commanding positions. This, of course, does not happen overnight.
Among the many models that propose to teach the art of leadership, the leadership pipeline is an absolute highlight. Your understanding and application enable you to develop the skills you need to become a high performance leader. Want to know more? In this text, you will discover:
Continue reading and check it out!
What is the leadership pipeline and what is it for?
People development is one of the most important activities that can be carried out by the human resources department. Based on offering training courses and programs and investing in best practices, it is feasible to improve a professional and, thus, raise him to a higher level of excellence.
In this sense, programs that seek to improve some technical skill are common, in order to increase the efficiency of the professional and enhance the return to the company. However, more specific models can develop deeper qualities, such as the ability to lead. That’s where the leadership pipeline comes in.
The methodology was developed by the Indian business consultant Ram Charan, and was presented to the public through the book “Leadership Pipeline: Developing Leaders as a Competitive Differential”, launched in 2010 by John Wiley & Sons and translated into London in 2018, by Sextante publisher.
The project, which counts on the collaboration of other consultants, is still seen today as a guide to identify and develop leadership characters within companies.
For this, the methodology suggests that the issue should be treated with special attention to its complexity and the different factors that affect each professional. Hence the name “pipeline”, which, in London, refers to a piping system with several branches.
What Charan proposes, therefore, is using common transformations and transitions in a corporate environment to shape future leaders. In the next topic, we will present how this happens in practice.
How does the leadership pipeline work?
To understand and apply the leadership pipeline developed by Ram Charan, it is necessary to abandon the old idea that the ability to lead is necessarily innate. There are cases of leaders who seem to be born ready to command, but this is an exception, not a rule.
In other words, you must see yourself – and your employees – as beings fully capable of developing the qualities necessary to assume a command post. From that understanding, you will be able to visualize the different transition steps that need to be overcome on the way to building leadership.
In the book already cited in this text, the authors indicate 6 stages of transition that are fundamental to the process. We will talk about each one of them below. Follow!
Self-manager to manager of others
Every professional is primarily a manager of himself. When newly arrived at the new job, the employee devotes his time to carrying out tasks delegated by others. Its only role is to guarantee its own efficiency and productivity, an objective that, if successfully achieved, can put it in a prominent position in the eyes of management.
When he performs his role with excellence and demonstrates ease in adapting to the company’s culture, it is natural that the employee gains new responsibilities. This moment marks the first transition stage in the leadership pipeline. Instead of just doing tasks assigned by others, the employee starts to delegate tasks.
The great challenge at this stage is to understand the change from a mere executor to a manager. The most qualified professionals may encounter some difficulty, since they tend to prefer to carry out the work with their own hands. If the challenge is overcome, we reach the second stage of the pipeline.
Manager of others to manager of managers
The second stage is marked by the construction of the necessary basis for any leadership position. This is because, first of all, at this stage, the professional must completely detach himself from his old function, dedicating himself exclusively to the role of manager.
Here, it is necessary to develop a comprehensive strategic look, including for the selection of other potential leaders. This means that second-tier leaders, as they are called, must deeply understand the company’s values and know how to differentiate employees with leadership potential from those who contribute more by just performing tasks.
At this stage, coaching-related techniques are highly appreciated, as they can become important elements in the selection and training of new managers.
Manager of managers for functional manager
The third stage in the leadership pipeline occurs when the professional stops managing other people to dedicate himself to the management of a function within the company, often covering an entire area of the business. This is the case of managers of marketing, sales, HR, facilities etc.
In addition to the qualities developed in the other stages of the pipeline, those who reach this point need to have a deep knowledge of the area in question. This must be coupled with an advanced ability to analyze a broader scenario and make strategic decisions in favor of business development.
In addition, there is an essential and essential quality for a functional manager: communication. To exercise your position with exquisite, such a manager needs to be in constant contact with other sectors of the company, in order to align strategies, integrate teams and enable an ever greater return for the company.
Functional manager for business manager
The fourth transition of the pipeline happens when the manager stops coordinating a specific area to manage the business in general. It is a very coveted internship, but it also stands out for being considered one of the most challenging.
The challenge is explained by the large number of changes that occur at this stage. In it, the manager must partially free himself from execution tasks and focus primarily on the analytical aspect of the work. This means that, in addition to the business KPIs, the individual starts to deal with broader metrics, such as market share and profits obtained.
In addition to monitoring short-term financial results, the business manager must dedicate his time to reflecting on the company’s future. This requires an understanding of all sectors of the company and effective communication with the managers of each department.
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Business manager for group manager
If you are successful in running a business, you shouldn’t have a hard time managing a group of companies, right? Not so much. The fifth transition of the pipeline concerns precisely this movement, highlighting the challenges involved in it.
Managing a business group, in addition to multiplying the manager’s responsibilities, it requires positive integration between the various sectors and professionals involved in the enterprise. It is necessary to focus on the actions with the greatest potential for profitability, but, at the same time, be careful not to act against the authority of minor managers.
According to Ram Charan, there are 4 fundamental skills that a manager at this stage must master. Are they:
- ability to delegate resources according to the strategic assessment;
- competence to select and train business managers;
- effectiveness in developing and implementing portfolio strategies;
- ability to assess the success potential of each company.
Group manager for corporate manager
The last stage of the pipeline developed by Ram Charan takes the manager to one of the most coveted positions in the corporate world: that of CEO. This transition is not so marked by the development of skills, but by the values and work ethics presented by the professional.
A corporate manager must bring together all the skills and competencies listed throughout the pipeline, but more importantly, he must be proactive in managing external factors of the business. This requires a strategic and updated look at political, economic and technological factors that can influence the market.
In this point, the vision adopted by an excellent CEO must stop being strategic and become visionary. This requires detachment from smaller elements, such as the company’s own customers, products and employees.
The idea is to focus on big picture, that is, the operating model adopted by the company, from the development phase of solutions to the way they are offered to the market. For this, it is essential that the CEO surrounds himself with qualified, ambitious managers with the potential to achieve great results.
What to do to develop this skill?
If you have reached this point in the text, you have already deconstructed the idea that leadership is an unskilled skill. In this way, you understand that it is completely possible to invest in your own training and become a leader, at least in potential. But, after all, how to do that?
The first step, without a doubt, is the self knowledge. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses is the starting point for the whole journey, since only then is it possible to discover which qualities you should focus on developing. It is important to see all this as a process, so monitoring its development is essential.
So, set goals and objectives that make it possible to periodically evaluate your progress. A good way to start is by establishing an Individual Development Plan (IDP).
Each case is different, but some points cannot be overlooked. Everyone who aspires to assume leadership roles must, in addition to mastering extensive knowledge of the market, know how to communicate effectively with other team members and make strategic decisions based on relevant data.
The leadership pipeline is a very valuable tool for the development of qualified leaders. Its application in companies can bring great benefits, since it facilitates the performance evaluation and the identification of talents. In addition, the pipeline, from the generation of new managers, facilitates the planning of the succession line.
‘A very interesting way to develop skills is to invest in reading relevant materials. So, following the idea of this article, we have separated the 10 best books on leadership for you to become a good leader. Check out!