The Leadership Pipeline

It is rare for a sports team to go through a season where its star players go the entire season without some injury, suspension or leave on a transfer. A team that doesn’t have a strong bench will struggle when its stars are injured or leave the team. This is where the strength of the team’s bench is critical. The replacements need to be able to step in and perform when there is a vacancy in the team. This ensures that the team doesn’t suffer and fall behind in the league tables. Top teams maintain their edge over the other teams because they have a better and stronger bench.

Likewise, organisations that achieve greatness have a strong leadership pipeline. High quality leaders are the lifeline of any organisation but they don’t always stay forever at a particular organisation. They move on for various reasons and great organisations ensure that they have an effective leadership pipeline in place to make sure that they have capable leaders to replace outgoing ones. A strong leadership bench is in place to compensate the loss of high quality leaders and ensure the organisation does not suffer their departures.

General Electric {GE} is a Fortune 500 company that has one of the best organisational leadership pipelines in the world. The leaders developed in GE are constantly sought after by other companies who lack an effective leadership development program. They have a strong bench of leaders to compensate for the leaders who regularly get headhunted for top jobs elsewhere. The company has a great track record of producing CEOs for other companies due the abundance of trained leaders at their disposal.

Excellent companies are better prepared to weather the storms of leadership departures than average companies. They have the system in place to replace outgoing leaders with capable in-house leaders, whereas average companies recruit outsiders because they lack suitable leadership replacements. You never know when your top talents and leaders will move on, but a robust leadership pipeline ensures that the organisation is able to weather the storms of leadership departures. This also ensures the organisation’s prosperity and effectiveness in the long term.

4 Comments

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4 Responses to The Leadership Pipeline

  1. Akin

    Really important organisational concept.
    Every organisation should aim to outlive its leaders and as such should have a good succession plan structure on ground.
    Nice piece! Very informative and eye opening!

  2. Seun B

    Interesting piece, especially the part on GE.

  3. Kike Odekunle

    Hey, I like this. I think with the example of the football teams in the first paragraph makes the note quite easy to understand.

  4. Oisa Ohiorenoya

    Very simple and relevant analogy for a key leadership principle.
    Well done

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