Many of the best and most successful corporations in the world have adopted The Leadership Pipeline model as the core framework for their efforts on the people side of their businesses. Built around the six common leadership ‘passages’ all leaders go through, it helps organizations select, develop, and assess based on specific responsibilities and work values at each leadership level. Every company I’ve worked for in talent management and leadership development adopted most if not all of The Leadership Pipeline’s principles.
THE LEADERSHIP PIPELINE MODEL
Step 1: Managing Self to Managing Others
Step 2: Managing Others to Leading Managers
Step 3: Leading Managers to Functional Manager
Step 4: Functional Manager to Business Manager
Step 5: Business Manager to Group Manager
Step 6: Group Manager to Enterprise Manager
Diversity in Leadership
The value of diversity in leadership continues to energize HR leaders’ broad initiatives and day-to-day decision making. Forward-thinking companies routinely implement diversity initiatives, employ diversity and inclusion managers, and host diversity programming. However, HR leaders continue to recognize a lack of diversity in their organizations as a prominent issue, despite this consistent focus on growing diversity. A recent Gartner survey of HR executives confirmed that developing effective leaders and a diverse leadership bench are their top two challenges of 2019.
Barriers to Leadership Diversity
Research by Deloitte and McKinsey & Company categorizes barriers to the advancement of women and people of color into several key areas:
- Lack of mentors and role models
- Exclusion from informal networks of communication
- Stereotyping and preconceptions of roles and abilities
- Lack of significant line experience, visible and/or challenging assignments
- Commitment to personal and family responsibilities (primarily for women)
- Identifying high-potential women and minority leaders lacks rigor
- Simplistic succession processes
Succession Processes Matter
Different succession processes can be placed on a continuum ranging from relatively simplistic and bounded to relatively complex and comprehensive.
- Replacement Planning: At the most simplistic end of the continuum, replacement planning denotes a minimal succession approach in which successors (i.e., replacements) are identified at the top two or three managerial levels, but there is little or no development of those successors other than ad-hoc on-the-job experience. The focus is on forecasting, with no attention to development issues.
- Succession Planning: Falls near the middle of this continuum of succession processes. It is more systematic and extensive than replacement planning because it is linked with intentional development initiatives targeted at successors; however, it is mainly for the top two or three management levels, like replacement planning.
- Succession Management: Anchors the most comprehensive end of this continuum in that it identifies successors (replacement planning), develops them (succession planning) and is also directed at all managerial levels. The overarching goal of succession management is to have a pool or pipeline of prepared leaders—and not just a list of prospective candidates—across all organizational levels to fill vacancies in key positions when needed. Succession management, not replacement planning or succession planning, is essential for building a diverse and inclusive leadership bench strength.
Inclusive Leadership Is Essential
Diversity of markets, customers, ideas, and talent are integrated. According to Deloitte, these simultaneous shifts are the new context. The core aspects of leadership, such as setting direction and influencing others, are timeless, but Deloitte sees a new capability that is vital to the way leadership is executed. Deloitte calls this inclusive leadership, and their research has identified six traits that characterize an inclusive mind-set and inclusive behavior.
Leveraging Deloitte’s thought leadership and six inclusive leadership traits, I recommend these three additional steps for developing a diverse leadership pipeline:
- Evaluate Diversity Investments: Examine investments in diversity programs to confirm they are aligned with your company’s specific business goals, not just diversity problems. Developing underrepresented minorities should be aligned with enterprise value drivers such as; revenue growth, operating margin, asset efficiency and stakeholders’ expectations.
- Engage minority communities, especially senior executives, to lead process and training changes. Start or expand employee resource groups (ERGs) and business resource groups (BRGs) and proactively discuss and work on future strategies. An additional recommendation is for companies to examine internal human resources processes, such as talent assessment, hiring, and promotion processes and leadership development nomination, for any unintended or embedded implicit biases.
- Data, Data, Data: Closely follow and investigate available data and have corporate boards, CEOs, and executive management own the results. With actionable insights from research, companies can take steps to drive awareness and offer solutions. In-house leadership development programs can be more focused and targeted to addressing the issues and supplemented with offerings developed by external organizations that provide leadership training and professional development classes grounded in research. These experience-based executive training programs and professional development programs can provide conceptual and pragmatic approaches to addressing the issues raised. Lastly, these programs should be a part of broader succession management, including monitoring succession and advancement.
Health Inclusion recommends that companies aggregate and analyze their internal data by race and gender; proactively enlist their minority leadership and employees in community involvement; and develop joint and individual metrics to bend the curve in companies’ ability to attract, retain, and promote talented women and minorities.