The Leadership Pipeline: Seven Key Transitional Steps from Employee to CEO

January 13th, 2013 by Sarah Green Leave a reply »

At Zircon we believe in supporting our clients with sound advice based on psychological knowledge on how to develop and grow leaders from within the organisation rather than being bought externally. By informing organisations of the unique requirements that different leadership roles need to have, organisations can apply these to their environment and consequently have an edge over their competitors.

According to Charan, Drotter and Noel, authors of The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership-Powered Company, the Leadership Pipeline Model consists of seven different stages, each consisting of diverse leadership requirements as the complexity of leadership gradually increases. We have found that the following seven stages proposed by Charan, Drotter and Noel are very useful in helping organisations build and maintain a leadership pipeline process, ensuring that organizations do not allow people to slip into leadership positions for which they do not have the necessary skills or experience. The behaviour required at each of these seven stages includes:

1. Stage One – Managing Self. Employees are individual contributors and carry out assigned work within the time frame allotted. They accept the work culture and adopt the professional standards of the company. Those employees who produce good results are considered for promotion.

2. Stage Two – Managing Others. After the promotion occurs, individuals must plan and assign work to employees as well as measuring their output. They must learn to reorganise their time so that they can complete their own tasks but additionally help others perform their tasks succinctly and effectively.

3. Stage Three – Managing Managers. Managers tend only to manage and rarely spend time carrying out their own individual tasks. They must select the right people for promotion, delegate leadership and managerial tasks to them as well as coach them and measure their successes. They must start to reflect on issues that concern the business as a whole.

4. Stage Four – Functional Manager. Functional Managers must learn to value and manage areas that are outside their own experiences as well as being team players with other functional managers. They must become strategists and integrate their business strategy within the overall business scheme and consider the long term perspective of the organisation.

5. Stage Five – Business Manager. Managers must integrate functions and look at whether plans should be carried out based on their potential long term profit for the organisation. They must become skilled with working with a variety of people and ensure that staff is valued and are being used effectively. They must create a balance between future goals and the present situation of the organisation, requiring reflection and analysis.

6. Stage Six – Group Manager. Group Managers value the success of other people’s businesses. Group managers need to value the success of others and support and inspire the performance of the business managers who report to them. Leadership at this level is more holistic and more interconnected. Evaluation of the business is vital within this stage; they must evaluate each business and business strategy operationally to ensure financial successes. Managers are also responsible for advancing ideas and strategies down through the rest of the organisational hierarchy.

7. Stage Seven – CEO. CEO focuses specifically on three or four mission critical priorities, requiring a visionary and global perspective and must focus on conceiving, developing, producing and marking all services to customers. Inspiration from CEOs to the entire employee population within the company is essential.

With these seven stages from employee to CEO, organisations can support individuals in changing their leadership behaviours as well as developing a clear idea of the skills, time applications and work values each stage comprises in order to ensure that the right people are at the right leadership levels, consequently ensuring that the organisation can thrive competitively and financially.

If you would like more information on how Zircon could support your leaders to develop, grow and progress then please contact

Adapted from Source:

Charan, R., Drotter, S., & Noel, J. (2001), The Leadership Pipeline: How to build the Leadership-Powered Company, Jossey-Bass

Written by: Elizabeth Hamchary. Business Psychology Intern.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.