the ceo magazine, leadership,
Samuel B. Bacharach, Author, The Agenda Mover

Having a leadership pipeline is one of the core responsibilities of a CEO. It is continuity, transference, and evolution of leadership skills that sustains the organization. The question for leaders is, “What type of leaders will assure that your organization will thrive?”

We no longer live in the world of hierarchy, of distinct departments, and delineated expectations. In today’s world, organizations are networked, project assignments vary from day to day, global teams are omnipresent, solutions replace products, and deep relationships with customers are essential.

In this world of fluid and agile organizations, moving agendas is an essential leadership skill.  Your high potentials may know their business, they may understand the products, they even may have a niche understanding of their customers, but in the maze of your organization, can they move agendas? Can they execute? Are they able to lead an idea from discovery to concrete implementation?

To make sure that your high potentials are prepared for the leadership pipeline, and are able to carry the organization into the future, they need to be trained in three leadership competencies.

  1. Innovation Competence. Organizations cannot survive without ideation and innovation.  High potentials need to become familiar with the process of ideation, and have experience in seeing the creativity process unfold, from the proposal stage to prototype to final implementation.  There are specific skills that high potentials need to develop to help them create a safe environment where teams are free to risk and discuss ideas while collaborating with one another.
  2. Political Competence. Having chosen an idea to pursue is a start.  In fact, there are hundreds of ideas floating around any organization at any given moment.  The challenge for high potentials is to map the political terrain, anticipate resistance, build effective coalitions, and get the buy-in. These are specific behavioral leadership skills that high potentials need to develop.
  3. Managerial Competence. Getting an idea off the ground in the early stages of development is one thing—getting people on board and securing the necessary resources—but teams can get burned out and ideas can fall to the wayside. It is important for high potentials to sustain momentum to get results.  This is about having the skills to enhance team members—that is, having the ability to mentor, coach, and develop team members. Having the ability to engage and enhance teams will help high potentials ensure effective and efficient implementation. 

To move your organization into the future, it is important that your future leaders—your high potentials—have the competencies and skills necessary to anticipate challenges, come up with innovative solutions and products, and sustain momentum for results.


About the Author

Samuel B. Bacharach is the author of The Agenda Mover: When Your Good Idea Is Not Enough (Cornell University Press, 2016).  He is also co-founder of the Bacharach Leadership Group, which focuses on training leaders in the skills of the Agenda Mover, and is the McKelvey-Grant Professor at Cornell University.

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