At the heart of every growing organization/system is the need for more leaders, and keeping up the pace with recruiting leaders can sometimes seem overwhelming. Having a plan in place for recruiting those new leaders is crucial, but if you have not thought through your leadership development process first, those new leaders will have a difficult time succeeding. Great leaders will end up frustrated and move on to somewhere where their potential can be realized.
Before you design the training for your leaders, you have to think through what the next steps are. What are the possibilities for a new leader in your system? That’s where a fleshed out leadership pipeline is essential. When Jack Welch was the head of GE, they were renown for their leadership development. Walt Mahler initially designed this process that would be become the leadership development infrastructure for organizations around the world:
Each step on the pipeline leads to bigger responsibilities and different skill sets. Every passage requires new training and experiences to prepare the leader for the next level. The process can start to fall apart when a leader skips a level, or there is not adequate training for them to make the passage smoothly. Every area of an organization or a church needs to have its own leadership pipeline in place. Here is what it looks like for our Groups team:
Each step on the pipeline has a job description and an expectation of what it takes to make the turn to the next level. Having a pipeline like this gives our leaders a visual of what their next steps are. Not every leader will make it all the way through, but it allows them to see the potential.
I would challenge your team to sit down soon and come up with your leadership pipeline. Ask your team, “What are our steps, and what training and experiences are needed to make the passage successful at each level?”.