The Leadership pipeline model – Develop your organization’s future leaders

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Leadership pipeline model

Great leadership can bring great success to the company. But, if you ever ask the businessman the most difficult or important parts of the business, Businessman’s will say many things. One similar thing you will notice is identifying, developing or recruiting the leaders and ‘The leadership pipeline model’ will help in it.

Choosing the right leaders is a really hard and confusing thing. Without proper leadership, the company will fall and the lives of many people will be disrupted.  

The leadership pipeline model is a very impactful and successful model for developing leaders in our organisation. Focusing on the different tiers of leaders would make a successful smooth workflow of the company because the distribution of the work will be well organized.


Who introduced the leadership pipeline model? 

In the 1970s, Walter Mahler described the theory of shift in work and values at different stages of the organization. Mahler’s model was implemented in over 80 companies across the US.

Then in 2000, Ram Charan, James Noel and Stephen J. Drotter developed Mahler’s ideas further in their book ‘The Leadership Pipeline.

The Leadership Pipeline book was written by the three persons mentioned above, who has 30 years of business consultancy experience and has worked with several Fortune 500 companies.

Benefits of using the leadership pipeline model

The company requires leaders who have the necessary skill for a particular position. Recruiting or developing these many leaders is too hard.

This model is helping us to develop the leaders in our organization. Thus further we don’t need to worry about developing leaders.

The authors have distributed the model at 6 different levels of leadership.

These levels are arranged in a way that the person starts from focusing on him or herself and as the level increases the person starts being more team-oriented from self-oriented. 

Levels are designed in the way that the person who is doing work on one particular level is eventually being ready for the next level. 

Level 1: Managing Self to Managing Others

The Leadership Pipeline Model

This is the tier where most of the newcomers are working. Who are recruited on behalf of professional or tech skill? We are assuming that they don’t have the leadership quality to manage others. 

At this level, the employees are working with their professional knowledge they already had before joining the company.

And simultaneously they are being ready for the next level by learning to plan work, assigning work, managing time, While working in this tier they also get to know the culture and curriculum of the company.

Level 2: Managing Others to Leading Managers

This tier is very important and most companies make a big mistake by not caring too much about this.

This level is important because now the newly promoted person who has just completed the first level is going to mentor the new employees who are the future leaders of the company.  

Now, In the 2nd level, the employees have taken some responsibility for the newcomers.

Now in the second level, he or she is not going to apply their professional knowledge and do the work. In the second level, they have to organize the team under them, they have to motivate and inspire them. 

The second level pushes them to become a leader and only focus on managing the team.

Which is completely different from the first level. In the first level, they have to become self-oriented and have nothing to do with anyone else. 

Level 3: Leading Managers to Functional Manager

In the third stage, they are playing the role of leading manager and learning the qualities required for a functional manager. Maybe a very big difference is not visible to you in between these two levels.

But, in the company, there is a big difference between these two. 

The functional manager needs to enhance the communication skill as a leader. And he doesn’t have to manage things properly, he also has to try new things that improve the company.

Level 4: Functional manager to business manager

From this level, the main leadership skills are gonna be used. At this level, the person will start making decisions. The business manager should provide and organize money and resources.

The business manager is the one who analyzes the past, present and future and makes good decisions for the company.

They should make sure that the financial requirement is fulfilling and the workflow is running smoothly.

Level 5: Business manager to group manager

At this stage, the business manager is getting ready for group management. The group manager has to look as broad as can. He has to develop his perspective toward the company. 

Group managers have to develop the skill to identify the person who is talented enough to encourage and support others, instead of doing this thing on their own. At this stage, the leader has to focus on capitalization. 

The group manager has to provide the right strategy to the employees at the right time.

Mentoring will become one of the main things on which leaders have to work at this stage. As we talked about before, he or she has to look for the business problem in very broad terms. 

The group manager is keeping his eyes on the operations which are performed in the company.

He has to close such old operations which are no longer bringing good results to the company and start new ones which are going to be profitable in future.

Level 6: Group manager to enterprise manager

Leadership Pipeline Model

On the last stage, great leadership skill is required. And The leadership pipeline model is developed as whoever is promoted to the next level has gained the knowledge and skill which is gonna require.

So, the leader who has reached this stage will have good leadership skill. Other skills like communication skills and others are involved in the leadership skill.

Enterprise managers have to think visionary, they should see the path which is not made yet.

But, this doesn’t mean that these tier leaders don’t have to manage the short term things.

They have to focus on that also. Enterprise managers have to keep an eye on almost every aspect of the company but the main thing they have to have is the long term vision.

Thee Leaders should work more on the vision instead of strategic plans. At the same time, they have to take charge of the whole organization.


The leadership pipeline model is found very successful and many big corporates have accepted this model.

The great thing about this model is, the workflow will become clear and the main problem, appointing the right leader for the right work, is solved. And employees’ skill is continuously improving. 

Also, you can read our blog on VAK Learning Style – How to Identify your Learning Style


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