Leaders At All Levels | Ram Charan

Summary of: Leaders At All Levels: Deepening Your Talent Pool to Solve the Succession Crisis
By: Ram Charan


Leaders At All Levels: Deepening Your Talent Pool to Solve the Succession Crisis, by Ram Charan, offers a revolutionary approach to CEO succession through hands-on training and apprenticeship. This book tackles the often insufficient and misguided investment in leadership development that many companies face, underlining the significance of cultivating competent future CEOs. Charan introduces the Apprenticeship Model, a method through which potential leaders learn by doing, fulfilling their potential to drive businesses to success. The book focuses on identifying high-performing individuals, creating custom-tailored career paths for them, and mentoring their growth effectively.

The Apprenticeship Model for Future CEOs

Is your company prepared to fill a leadership vacuum left by a departed CEO? The Apprenticeship Model offers an effective solution for leadership development and training. This approach provides accelerated educational opportunities tailored to specific CEO positions, utilizing feedback and practice. The model requires a strong talent pool of potential CEOs and capable executives who can teach them about leadership. Many companies are not investing adequately in leadership development and training, leading to a high risk of recruiting CEOs externally. This failing can be both risky and expensive. However, the Apprenticeship Model has proven effective for prominent firms such as Novartis, General Electric, Colgate-Palmolive, WellPoint, and Textron. So, is your board and executives prepared to make this investment?

Leadership Training Shortcomings

Most companies fail at succession planning and leadership training due to a lack of discipline and a focus on the wrong areas. This is alarming because many talented individuals with great potential miss out on the chance to become brilliant leaders. Shortcomings in typical succession programs include not identifying capable individuals early enough, not making leadership training an essential part of every senior executive’s role, and using a one-size-fits-all approach to career advancement. Furthermore, some companies use classroom training instead of on-the-job training to develop their future CEOs.

The Apprenticeship Model for Developing Leaders

The Apprenticeship Model is a practical approach to developing leaders that doesn’t rely on conventional methods like books and classrooms. Instead, it focuses on on-the-job training, where potential leaders learn by doing. The first step in setting up such a program is to identify high-potential leaders and spot them early in their careers. They should possess innate qualities such as the ability to master new job skills, strong communication skills, and the ability to work effectively with others. Once identified, these individuals should be given customized job assignments that enable them to learn how to make CEO-level decisions.

The Apprenticeship Model involves focusing on output, lining up mentors who will invest in the development of young leaders, involving a small number of potential candidates in training and development, defining and assessing their skills, and setting them up for major leaps of complexity and responsibility. The emphasis is on deliberate practice rather than theoretical training and exposure. The Apprenticeship Model is a practical and effective approach to developing leaders who can take on senior leadership positions.

Colgate-Palmolive’s Approach to Identifying Future Leaders

Colgate-Palmolive has a strong leadership program that identifies potential leaders globally, regionally, and locally. The selection process for future leaders starts early, and each subsidiary manager nominates high-potential candidates. The company shortlists a pool of approximately 500 future leaders and invests in those considered “blockbusters.” Future leaders must be visionary with both “people” and “business acumen,” drive, ambition, and a wide “bandwidth.” Colgate-Palmolive’s approach to identifying future leaders creates a competitive advantage that focuses on bringing out the best in its leaders.

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