The Leadership Pipeline - Ram Charan

The Leadership Pipeline - Ram Charan

Learn about the six essential leadership passages in this “The Leadership Pipeline” summary, and lead successfully.

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In this summary of the book "The Leadership Pipeline", you will find the answers sought on how to lead successfully, regardless of the hierarchical level in the company.

Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, and James Noel show what are the transitions of leadership in a company. They also explain how the leadership pipeline method directly affects employee performance. In addition, in this summary you will learn the needs to perform your duties with excellence.

Want to know more? Continue with us and learn how to get to the most important position in a company.

About the book "The Leadership Pipeline"

The book "The Leadership Pipeline", published in 2013 by Elsevier, was written by the authors Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, and James Noel.

In this 311-page, 14-chapter book, three consultants share their experiences in relation to the development of people within associations. They explain how to apply the leadership pipeline method to create leaders with a succession plan, starting as the manager of themselves and the corporate manager.

About the authors Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, and James Noel

Ram Charan is a Ph. D. at Harvard Business School, speaker, and writer. He is the author of thirteen bestsellers in the areas of leadership and management and is considered the most influential consultant in the world in business management, competitiveness, and leadership by Fortune magazine.

Stephen Drotter is president and co-founder of the Leadership Pipeline Institute. In addition, the author specializes in executive succession, organization design, leadership assessment and development, and coaching of senior executives.

James Noel is an independent consultant and leadership coach. In addition, he was Vice President of Executive Development at Citibank and manager of Leadership Effectiveness and Executive Education at the Leadership Institute.

To whom is this book indicated?

Leaders, coaches, and directors who develop leaders for corporations or achieve excellence in their management burdens.

Main ideas of the book "The Leadership Pipeline"

  • There are six leadership transitions within a company;
  • For each level of management there are specific skills and competences;
  • It is necessary to assist and train individual employees so that they become great leaders;
  • At each organizational level change, professional values must be updated;
  • The leadership pipeline approach is critical in diagnosing and solving problems;
  • This model can be adapted according to the needs and culture of an organization.

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[Book Summary] The Leadership Pipeline - Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, James Noel

Overview: The six passages of leadership

For Ram Charan, leadership must be developed according to the skills and profile of each professional. In this way, he created the leadership pipeline theory.

In a large company, a hierarchy occurs through six (main) passages in the professional career, or in the pipeline. A pipeline is a pipe or plumbing, a canoe that curves at six points.

Each of these points represents a passage in the organizational position:

Leadership passages

  • Passage 1: From managing yourself to managing others;
  • Passage 2: From managing others to managing managers;
  • Passage 3: From managing managers to functional manager;
  • Passage 4: From functional manager to business manager;
  • Passage 5: From business manager to group manager;
  • Passage 6: From group manager to corporate manager.

According to the "The Leadership Pipeline", the development of leadership emerges from a desire to grow. The leadership pipeline approach shows the step by step to awaken or ignite this desire and, consequently, improve the productivity and efficiency of future leaders in organizations.

1. From managing yourself to managing others

The first transition concerns the transition from an individual employee to top management. In this phase, an employee is trained to reach a level above the hierarchy.

Therefore, in order to help your employees to make this transition effectively, it is necessary to become familiar with the necessary change in relation to skills, time applications, and professional values.

For this, managers must know the characteristics of first level leadership that are fundamental to satisfy the needs of their staff.

Thus, the authors point out three important achievements in this phase:

  1. Define and divide the work to be performed;
  2. Consent that direct subordinates do the work, monitoring, communicating, and solving problems;
  3. Develop social contracts through the relationship with direct reports.

Selecting individual employees to manage others requires taking into account the results achieved, commitment, and motivation. In addition, it is necessary to assess the ability and interest to learn.

2. From managing others to managing managers

The managers of managers are responsible for the largest number of employees who perform the daily functions of the company, in charge of work related to products and services.

In this work, professionals need to be focused on strategic issues. That way, he stops managing just his team and starts managing the managers of the other teams.

Therefore, managers of managers must learn to perform the following jobs:

  • Choose and train qualified first-level managers;
  • Ensure that top-level managers are accountable for their work;
  • Allocate and reallocate resources between units;
  • Manage the boundaries that separate the units dependent on it from the others.

3. From managing manager to functional manager

The person who goes through the transition from manager to manager becomes a member of the business team and reports to the business manager.

The functional work of the business is related to customer service and everything that involves it. For this, great maturity is needed to assume this role and think about the function from different perspectives.

In addition, it is necessary to think like an entrepreneur, and no longer as an employee. Therefore, it is necessary to reflect on how decisions have consequences for the whole community, not just for a small group.

According to Ram Charan, the best functional managers are those who are able to think strategically. For this, it is essential to develop skills to create a functional strategy:

  • Thinking in longer terms;
  • Updated knowledge;
  • Full and detailed knowledge of the business model and goals and long-term strategic direction;
  • Consider aspects of the role for strategic thinking;

Ability to deal with trade-offs in the role in favor of business strategy, profitability, and competitive advantage.

4. From functional manager to business manager

Business managers are responsible for making a product or creating a service to sell it. Therefore, it is necessary to change thinking when going through this transition, to stop considering only the function itself, and to value all functions.

The manager of this level must think about profitability and competitive advantage at a global level, and consider factors such as customers, competitors, democratic factors, and the world economy.

The head of the business manager must assist him in the valuation of all functions, and to build strong teams with his subordinates. Therefore, the head of the business manager should encourage you to:

  • Set aside time to meet with functional leaders and ask questions about their work;
  • Develop the custom of taking the functional leader on trips so that he can help him better understand the values of each function;
  • Test ideas, decisions, and proposals with a trusted ally;
  • Collect opinions before making decisions.

5. From business manager to group manager

Group managers are charged with allocating limited corporate resources between competing organizations. Therefore, this leader must have a global perspective, think broadly, and consider different situations when managing multiple businesses.

According to "The Leadership Pipeline", one of the main skills of a group manager is to value the success of the business of others, that is, to inspire and support his subordinates.

Furthermore, it is the responsibility of this leader:

  • Ensure the effectiveness of the work of business leaders, evaluate their strategic skills and approve their projects;
  • Select, manage and develop new business managers;
  • Distribute capital between businesses and charge them to produce the desired profits;
  • Identify and analyze new opportunities that arise.

6. From group manager to corporate manager

In this last transition, the corporate manager, or CEO, becomes responsible for the entire enterprise. Therefore, he is accountable to several sectors of the organization:

  • Boards of directors;
  • Financial analysts;
  • Investors, partners, and allies;
  • Shareholders;
  • Direct subordinates.

"The Leadership Pipeline" tells us that, today, people are becoming CEO at approximately 45 years old. Companies look for people with experience because reaching the top without training is very risky for the organization and its business.

With their experience and training, corporate managers must be prepared to face the following challenges:

  • Deliver consistent and predictable financial and billing results;
  • Define the direction of the company;
  • Define and direct social relationships within the company;
  • Conduct the company in a global context.

In this way, corporate managers must adapt their values to their new role, such as accepting advice from the administrative sector.

In addition, they must define a direction and develop operational strategies so that they know and drive good performance, finding the balance between what is done in the short term and what is done in the long term.

Overview: Diagnosing problems and improving performance

According to Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, and James Noel, it is possible to apply the leadership pipeline in different contexts and use it in different ways, one of which is in diagnosing problems.

Through the leadership pipeline model, it is possible to diagnose problems and the levels at which this occurs, and the skills that need to be developed.

According to the authors, one of the biggest obstacles encountered is people working at the wrong level of leadership, and this occurs most often at the following levels:

  • First level managers working as an individual employee;
  • Business managers acting as functional managers;
  • Group leaders exercising the role of business managers.

Knowing what results from leaders are achieving is critical to assessing whether they are suitable for their role. In addition, it is possible to identify this problem by analyzing the difficulties of the direct reports of this leader, as these problems are a reflection of the work of managers.

Performance standards

Well-defined performance standards are of great relevance in enterprises. Therefore, the performance needs to be multidimensional. Therefore, according to the authors, the good performance of a company's work must be related to:

  • Operational results;
  • Results related to customers;
  • Results related to leadership;
  • Results related to management.

Overview: Succession Planning

Often, transitions through leadership levels are hindered when a great leader leaves his position and the company has no prepared substitutes for that role.

Succession planning makes it possible to replace positions with people with good performance and great leadership. Therefore, for succession to occur successfully, it is necessary to follow four rules:

  1. The focus must be on performance (candidates must high performance in their roles);
  2. The leadership pipeline demands continuous flow (succession must be planned at all levels of leadership);
  3. The passages in the leadership pipeline must be understood;
  4. The short and long term must be analyzed together.

To carry out a succession planning that keeps the leadership pipeline supplied, it is necessary to:

  • Customize the pipeline model to suit the need for succession;
  • Translate performance standards into your own language;
  • Communicate standards to the entire organization.

Overview: Benefits at all levels

The leadership pipeline approach fits at all levels of the organization. You can use it to reflect, analyze, decide on actions to select future leaders and develop talent within your group.

According to the authors, this model makes it possible to standardize the necessary leadership skills, in addition to helping organizations to select the best candidates for the position.

Therefore, the leadership pipeline assists in the excellence of the company's functioning, by separating the responsibilities and accountability of each level of leadership.

The flexibility of the leadership pipeline

An organization's six leadership transitions are flexible and can be adapted. According to the authors of the book, it is possible to adapt this model, especially, in three types of organizations that escape the traditional business model:

1. E-commerce

The leadership pipeline allows these organizations to identify the necessary requirements at each level of leadership, in addition to providing a tool that manages risks.

2. Medical services

The health sector needs the best leadership models, which are capable of providing good directions for treatments and effectiveness in the provision of services.

In this way, the pipeline model can help to know the changes that are fundamental in relation to the skills and competences of professionals in the field.

3. Megacorporations

There is great difficulty in leading megacorporations efficiently, due to their global reach and great competitiveness. In this way, the leadership pipeline can set standards with regard to the characteristics needed in a leader and how to select the best person for that role.

What do other authors say about it?

According to the author Angela Miguel, in the book "Learn Leadership from La Casa de Papel", she makes a comparison of the techniques used in the series on leadership, planning, and self-control.

In "The Leadership Gold", John C. Maxwell defends the idea that we need to develop self-awareness in order to become true leaders.

Finally, in the book "The Effective Executive", Peter F. Drucker clarifies that executives can be brilliant, imaginative, and informed, and still be inefficient. Effective executives are systematic. They work hard in the right areas and their results define them.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

  • Understand each passage through the leadership pipeline well;
  • Learn to develop leadership skills;
  • Maintain high performance in your functions;
  • Adapt your professional values at each level of organization;
  • Help your subordinates to develop leadership and learn how to select the most capable to hold a position.

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Book 'The Leadership Pipeline'