Five Commitments for Developing a Leadership Pipeline

In many of our organizations, leaders are noticing that there is a revolving door syndrome taking place. There has been a great deal of talk of “The Great Resignation” or a “Resignation Exodus” occurring across all industries as well as all levels of experience. It seems to be continuing at a rapid pace, leaving little time for creating a hiring strategy. In fact, one company is so panicked about job vacancies that they are willing to bring back former employees who may have already performed poorly in the past. Another institution is evaluating whether they should just hire people across the country and not worry about ever bringing them back in person.

What if instead of being overwhelmed with filling positions, organizations turned their focus to developing their leadership pipeline?

 Why not swap out a “frightened bear search” mentality for a “what does our internal talent look like” tactic?

 Maybe you have your current and future leaders sitting right in front of you and you just can’t see it.

Five commitments for developing a leadership pipeline:

1. Adjust Your Attitude

It can feel frustrating and unsettling that a team that once performed at a high level no longer is able to meet deadlines without hours of overtime. Team members are anxious that since their colleagues are jumping to other organizations that perhaps they too should make the leap to a new place. If leaders sense this is happening it may be time to adjust your attitude. Think back when you were facing a challenge that you were struggling with and remind yourself how you resolved it. This probably isn’t the only time during your career that you witnessed team members leaving, resulting in gaps. You are resilient. You have experience. There is a way to navigate through this.

2. Design A Leadership Pipeline Strategy

What actions do strong leaders take when a mass exodus looms large? Begin by designing a leadership pipeline strategy. This is the moment that impactful leaders start to plan what their leadership group should and could look like.

  • Decide on the team’s priorities and goals.
  • In collaboration with team members, identify the optimal group structure. Clarify all the job responsibilities and tasks.
  • Identify a timeline of how long most people stay in their positions.
  • List the skills and experience required for each position.
  • Commit to developing the growth of each person’s career.

3. Look Inwards-Take Stock

Using the leadership pipeline strategy as a compass, the next step is to take a deep look at the team’s current talent. Knowing the kinds of assignments and projects needed to meet team goals, helps leaders identify the critical talent and skills needed. Maybe, it wouldn’t take very much to upskill some current team members to successfully complete priorities. For example, if a gap exists in team members’ ability to present to senior leaders, then coaching and training can be key. Individual Career Development plans can be a big boost for team members and can make the difference between staying and leaving. Invest in your talent.

4. Roll-out Your New Plan

A plan that is explained with clarity and excitement will be a plan that is embraced. Once the organization’s leadership pipeline strategy is decided, the process of sharing it with everyone is essential. Some of ways I have found most successful are:

  • Educate the team leaders on how the new plan will grow their talent.
  • Include milestones for teams to achieve. Encourage celebrations for reaching the milestones.
  • Create a storytelling stream that teams can share their wins with the entire company.
  • Add visuals to your leadership pipeline strategy that can connect the dots of professional development with career growth.

5. Check-in and Follow-up

Establish monthly check-ins for managers and supervisors with their teams to keep the momentum rolling. 360 degree feedback can reveal how well the leadership pipeline strategy is going. See what is working well and what needs to be tweaked. Stay openminded and be willing to make changes to designing an even stronger leadership pipeline.

How has a leadership pipeline strategy helped your team and organization?

Related: Don't Be Afraid To Lead With Your Authentic Self