Written by three genuine experts in management development (one of them helped design GE's deservedly famous succession-development process), The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company finally shows organizations how to undo the knots and clogs in their in-house "leadership pipeline" so they can constantly groom the best people at every level to move up to the next rung of leadership. Not only do the authors identify the six transition phases, or "turns," of the pipeline--from self-manager (individual worker), first-line manager, and managers' manager to function manager, business manager, group manager and enterprise manager (the last essentially being a CEO)--they describe each with remarkable insight; these six levels of leadership growth, for example, exist at the base of every midsize or large organization regardless of how each structures its individual hierarchy. With each, they take care to point out both the new skills and values (there is a difference) one must acquire before making a turn, as well as how to measure whether someone has them before moving them along. They also show how to determine whether candidates are embodying those skills and values once they've made the transition, and how to groom them for the next level right from day one.
The result? Not just one potentially qualified in-house candidate for a top leadership position (the kind of dearth that forces companies to look outward for expensive and often short-lived leadership "stars"), but a whole generation of them, not to mention younger generations to succeed them.
The book includes sample scenarios (from both fictional and real-life organizations), definitions, checklists and charts that break down and illustrate its main points in every chapter. Though shrewd and straightforward on every page, The Leadership Pipeline isn't for anyone looking an easy, step-by-step, worksheet-guided quick fix to management development and succession planning. The authors stress that it takes some hard thinking for companies to determine what they really need from leaders at each level (and to figure out which individuals have the potential and desire to scale those levels). It requires serious homework to translate this book's excellent guidance into a plan for your own organization's pipeline.
That's a small price to pay, however, for a book with such uncommonly clear insight into what it takes to nurture and navigate the best leadership from right inside your own house. --Timothy Murphy
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