January 19, 2006
Book Short: Required Reading
The Leadership Pipeline, by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, and James Noel, should be required reading for any manager at any level in any organization, although it’s most critical for CEOs, heads of HR, and first-time managers. Just ask my Leaderhip Team at Return Path, all of whom just had to read the book and join in a discussion of it!
The book is easy to read, and it’s a great hands-on playbook for dealing with what the authors call the six leadersihp passages:
From Individual Contributor to Manager (shift from doing work to getting work done through others)
From Manager to Manager of Managers (shift to pure management, think beyond the function)
From Manager of Managers to Functional Manager (manage outside your own experience)
From Functional Manager to Business Manager (integrate functions, shift to profit and longer term views)
From Business Manager to Group Manager (holistic leadership, portfolio strategies, value success of others)
From Group Manager to Enterprise Manager (outward looking, handle external and multiple constituencies, balance strategic and visionary long-term thinking with the need to deliver short-term operating results)
All too often, especially in rapidly growing companies, we promote people and move them around without giving enough attention to the critical success factors involved in each new level of management. I’ve certainly been guilty of that at Return Path over the years as well. It’s just too easy to get trapped in the velocity of a startup someitmes to forget these steps and how different each one is. This book lays out the steps very neatly.
It’s also one of the few business books that at least makes an attempt — and a good one at that — at adapting its model to small companies. In this case, the authors note that the top three rungs of the pipeline are often combined in the role of CEO, and that Manager of Managers is often combined with Functional Managers.
Anyway, run, don’t walk, to buy this one!