This past week I was at the new leadership centre of A.P. Moeller Maersk in Rolighed. A former 19th century patrician home was converted last year into a state-of-the-art training and development facility. It has a beautiful lake as a back drop and is only a few minutes walk from the ocean. It is a temple of calm and reflection – a perfect setting for leadership development.
A.P. Moeller Maersk is one of the world’s largest shipping companies. The company’s main shareholder is The A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation, which was established by company founder A.P. Møller in 1953 to ensure that the company would always be owned by parties that held a long-term view of the company’s development.
It is therefore not surprising that Maersk would be attracted to long-term development of its leadership. In 2005, Maersk was introduced to the concept of the Leadership Pipeline, pioneered by former General Electric executives Stephen Drotter and Jim Noel. The first edition of their book, co-authored with Ram Charan, came out in 2001 and was so well received in the corporate world, that a second edition came out last year.
The Leadership Pipeline Concept is simple. As leaders progress through an organization there are several critical transition points. At these transition points, the way that leaders lead changes. Leaders transition from “Individual Contributors” to “Leaders of Others” to “Leaders of Leaders” to “Functional Leaders” to “Business Leaders” to “Enterprise Leaders”. At each level different priorities, skill sets and usage of time are required. For instance, a “Leader of Others” needs to learn the skill of delegation which was not necessary at the previous lower level.
It is important to manage the transitions well at each level. If that does not happen, first you will have ineffective leaders in the organization. Second, the pipeline gets clogged. Leaders that do not make the transition make it difficult for the next transition to take place. If an organization wants to insure that it has the leadership capacity it needs throughout the company, it has to manage and support these transitions at every level.
In my next blog, I will describe how I supported 18 top leaders at Maersk to make the transition to a “Leader of Leaders”.