My basic premise of leadership development is leaders raise up other leaders. Leaders who do not reproduce other leaders are short sited and ultimately damage the long-term health of their organization or department. If leaders do not produce leaders where will the future leaders come from? I’ve heard John Maxwell say on several occasions, “It takes one to know one, it takes one to show one and it takes one to grow one.” Leaders produce leaders.
Every organization has a natural hierarchical structure that people advance through as they gain greater leadership responsibility. This has become known as the leadership pipeline. If there is a shortage of leaders at various levels, if the same old people are doing the same old jobs year after year, if growth is hampered because of a shortage of leadership, then this is a clear indication that your leadership pipeline is clogged. So what can you do? Here are a few suggestions.
- Make leadership development an expectation of all the leaders in your organization. You can do this by talking about it frequently and by making it one of the factors that you measure in your organizational scorecard. (Ex: How many new leaders are being developed in each department?)
- Inspect your leadership pipeline regularly. I would recommend a regular inspection of the condition of your leadership pipeline. Take at least an hour a quarter and look at the leaders at every level of your organization. Your organizations database should be able to print a report that would show the names of those at each level. (CLICK HERE for Pipeline SAMPLE) Discuss these level by level by level, name by name. Ask the following questions: Where do we have leadership gaps? Who are the potential leaders to fill those gaps? Who has the potential to move up to the next level? What is their next step and how can we help them take it? Who is in process of being developed for the next level?
- Build on what’s working. Find those in your organization that are already mentoring new leaders. Recognize them, reward them and challenge them to reproduce more mentoring leaders in your organization. If you only have 20% of your current leaders mentoring new leaders it will have an exponential impact on the multiplication of leaders in your organization.
What are other action steps you can take to unclog your pipeline?