The Leadership PipelineI often read more than one book at once. This is great for stimulating thought but may cause an intermingling of thought on my book reviews.
The Leadership Pipeline - How to Build the Leadership Powered Company by Ram Charan, Steve Drotter and Jim Noel was awesome. It is a must read for any aspiring leader at any level. And of course every HR dept needs multiple copies.
I like Ram Charan's books. He is a clear thinker.
One thing I like about the book is it encourages organizations to look within for leaders. I do think it is good to have some outside talent but the culture of the organization is often best fostered by existing people. I think promoting from within also keeps knowledge within the company.
Leadership Pipeline talks of leadership mostly within larger organizations. This is not where my experience is.
The book talks about 6 passages of leadership.
1 - From managing self to others. Moving from technical proficiency to planning, delegation, coaching etc. There is a good table that lays out the changes/skills required in each phase.
2 - From managing others to managing managers
3 - From Managers to functional managers. At this stage, the leader needs to penetrate 2 levels of the company. I often call this the rule of 49. A good leader can manage 7 people who can manage 7 people. Beyond 49 people, style needs to change.
4 - From Functional managers to business leader. Interestingly, I started my career here. I started my business so was always responsible for the whole business. I grew through managing others in a few months. In a couple of years, I was managing managers. After that, it took me 8 or 9 years before I had to manage functional managers. I do not recall how many people I had in each year of our growth but I do recall sales numbers. It took us 9 years to reach $40,000,000 in sales.
I must have had trouble growing through that level since our sales stalled for 3 years at that level before growing to $68,000,000. We went public the following year and sales beat $100,000,000 the next year.
5 - The next step is going from managing a business unit to managing a group of businesses. I am not sure I really hit that stage at EMJ. Or perhaps I just touched it. At this stage, leaders need to learn to influence more than control.
I sold EMJ to SYNNEX when our sales were $350,000,000.
6 - Going from group leadership to enterprise leadership. I did some of this at EMJ but it was not until I went to SYNNEX and sale rose to over $1 Billion that this became more of the norm. Even then, SYNNEX was a small company so I still had much to learn and growth to do to truly become an enterprise leader.
One thing that limits leaders is their sticking to proven strategies. EG - an individual performer might dig in more to do the work instead of moving to a coach, trainer, mentor etc. Part of growing as a leader is being willing to let go.
I recall having to deliberately let go (and it was tough). For example, at one point, I decided I just should not enter an order or give customers delivery information (it was taking too much of my time and I was finding people I met were using me as their sales rep). It was tough.
Much of growing as a leader for me had to do with deliberate study. I would always ask myself what I would need to do or learn to get to the next level (not meaning these leadership levels meaning the next sales/organization size)
Leadership pipeline has a good section on identifying potential leaders and succession plans (SYNNEX did a fair job of that - and I only say fair since I think doing it well is almost impossible)
Great book - I highly recommend it.