A business manager in a suit and tie stressed from organizational problems.

Are there problems in your organization? How can you fix managerial issues?

The Leadership Pipeline is a theoretical model for categorizing leadership responsibilities that employees must fulfill to keep an organization healthy. One of the benefits of using the Pipeline is that it easily identifies organizational problems.

Learn how easy it can be to pinpoint the root of the problem with the Leadership Pipeline.

The Leadership Pipeline Identifies Your Organization’s Flaws

You can use the Leadership Pipeline to identify organizational problems and work to resolve them, the authors write. The Pipeline offers a model for ideal management at any level. When a manager doesn’t match the model, it means their work is flawed and someone needs to correct or coach them.

(Shortform note: Although the Leadership Pipeline offers a single model of ideal management, this doesn’t mean that all ideal managers work in exactly the same way. The Pipeline outlines requirements for managers at each level, but different people may use different management styles to fulfill those requirements. For instance, one line manager might motivate their team by appealing to the grand mission they want to accomplish, while another appeals to their team’s feelings of loyalty toward each other.)

The authors note that the Leadership Pipeline is particularly good at identifying hidden management flaws. Some flaws are obvious: It’s easy to notice when a manager does poor work or fails to complete all their tasks. However, without the Leadership Pipeline, it’s difficult to notice when a manager is working hard on the wrong tasks. 

According to the authors, this typically happens when a manager doesn’t understand their role and instead does work that’s easier for them to understand: the work from the stage below that they did before being promoted. Not only do such managers fail to fulfill their unique responsibilities, they also prevent their subordinates from getting the experience they need to advance to the next stage. Thus, they disrupt the entire Pipeline, halting the growth of numerous employees and weakening the company’s future leadership.

For example, imagine that the manager of an IT department likes to jump in and solve tech issues themselves whenever their team faces a complex problem. In doing so, they’re teaching their subordinates to pass off challenges to others instead of taking personal responsibility for the team’s mission. As a result, none of the members of this IT team will have what it takes to become managers in the future.

The Leadership Pipeline helps you identify situations like this by delineating the exact tasks managers at each level should be doing. A second-level manager who’s familiar with the Leadership Pipeline would take a look at the aforementioned hands-on IT manager and immediately realize that they’re doing front-line work rather than management work.

Managerial Flaws Can Look Like Strengths

Experts elaborate that it’s especially difficult to notice when managers are doing the wrong work because this kind of counterproductive hands-on leadership can even look admirable. When a manager shoulders a large part of their team’s workload, they appear to be putting in hard labor for the team. Managers want employees to see them as generous and hard-working, which is why so many fall into this trap.

However, by doing their team’s work for them, managers don’t just block their team members from moving up in the company (by depriving them of experience and responsibilities)—they also prevent themselves from moving up. Experts note that if a manager does enough of their team’s work, the team will soon depend on them to keep functioning. This makes them a worse candidate for future promotions; if they move up, it’ll hurt the team they’re leaving. On the contrary, experts argue that a manager’s job is to make themselves redundant: They should coach a team until it doesn’t need them anymore, then move up to a new level.
How to Identify Hidden Organizational Problems

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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