Book Notes: The Leadership Pipeline

The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership-Powered Company by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter and Jim Noel
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There tends to be the perspective that performing well at one level means they will likely perform well at the next. In reality each level in an organisation has a different set of challenges which required different values, time application and skills. The book presents 6 passages.

  • Work value – what people believe is important and thus the focus of their effort
  • Time applications – new time frames that governs work
  • Skill requirements – the capabilities required to execute new responsibilities

In general a change in work values will then cascade to time applications and skill requirements.

Managing Self

  • Work values
    • Personal proficiency
    • High-quality technica or profesional work
    • Accepting the companies values
  • Time applications
    • Daily discipline
    • Completing work assigned within given time frame at required quality – usualy short term
  • Skill requirements
    • Individual contribution through technical or profesional perficiency
    • Team player
    • Relationsjips built for personal benefit
    • Using company tools, processes and precedures

Managing Self to Managing Others

  • Work values
    • Must shift from “doing” work to getting work done through others
    • Success of direct reports
    • Valuing management work
    • Success of unit
  • Time applications
    • Annual planning
    • Balancing own tasks but also helping others work effectively
    • Setting priorities
    • Communication
  • Skill requirements
    • Planning work
    • Job design
    • Filling jobs
    • Assigning work/delegation
    • Motivation
    • Coaching and feedback
    • Measuring others work

At GE they plotted values against results – if a promotion does not result in a change in value then the person no longer remained in a leadership position.

Managing Others to Managing Managers

  • Work values
    • Link strategy to workers and workers capabilities to match the strategy
  • Time applications
    • Divested of individual tasks, pure management focus.
  • Skill requirements
    • Selecting people to passage to Managing Others, assigning managerial and leadership work, measuring progress and coaching them.
    • Holding first line managers accountable
    • Deploying resources effectively
    • Manage the boundaries between teams
    • Thinking beyond the team.
    • Returning Managers of Others to individual contributors

Signs of misplaced managers

  • Dificulty delegating
  • Poor performance management
  • Failure to build a strong team
  • Single-Minded focus on doing work
  • Choosing clones over contributors

Managing Managers toFunction Managers

  • Work values
    • Learn to value “foreign” work.
    • A long-term perspective and strategy.
    • “Can we do it?”
    • Value what you don’t know
  • Time applications
    • Participating in bussiness meetings and working with other functional managers.
    • Valuing time focusing on the state of the art and longer term.
    • Collaboration with other functions
  • Skill requirements
    • Acting more as a leader than manager
    • Communication skills for working with people further away. Must manage areas outside of their own expertise.
    • Understanding how front line people are doing without alienating inbetween managers
    • Must take other functions concerns into consideration collaborating with them.
    • Managing competition for resources for bussiness needs.
    • Becoming proficient strategists.
    • Identifying dysfunction

Function Managers to Business Manager

  • Work values
    • Values the success of their own bussiness
    • Valuing all functions e.g. staff functions
    • “Should we do it?”
  • Time applications
    • Time needs to be reserved for reflection and analysis.
  • Skill requirements
    • Clear link between their efforts and market results.
    • In charge of integrating functions not just being aware of them.
    • Whereas before the question was how to do something, now the question is should we do something and what value will it bring to the bussiness.
    • Balancing the short term goals and future needs meeting quarterly profits, market share, product and people while also planning for 3 – 5 years ahead.

Sign of a miss placed manager

  • Uninspired communication
  • Inability to assemble a strong team
  • Failing to grasp how the bussiness can make money
  • Problems with time management
  • Neglect of the soft issues

Business Manager to Group Manager

  • Work values
    • Values the success of other managers businesses, no longer getting credit.
    • Which choices will give us the best results now and in the future
  • Time applications
    • Coaching bussiness managers – not managing their bussiness for them
  • Skill requirements
    • Evaluating strategy for capital and deployment
    • Portfolio strategy – the right businesses
    • Core capabilities assessment

Group Manager to Enterprise Manager

  • Work values
    • Visionary thinking
    • Making a small number of mission critical priorities per year with focus
  • Time applications
    • Growing people for the right roles using the right assignments to give them the required experience
  • Skill requirements
    • Dealing with highly ambitious direct reports knowing they want your job
    • Communication

In most cases, failure does not occur because people are lazy or incompetent; it occurs because they really don’t understand their role when they move to new leadership levels.

When moving from one leadership level to the next, if there is not a change of approach then it will lead to failure.

There are subtle but meaningful differences in the requirements for success at different leadership levels.

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