The Leadership Pipeline


What if you could have a leadership pipeline that fed non-stop talent for every open role you might have in your store? Does this sound like a magic wish? Well take heart, you don’t need Genie and his magic lamp. You can make this happen.

Our February series has been focused on Talent. First I shared the Bell Curve and suggested using this science to plot your talent.

In last week’s post, I talked about how developing your team begins with being effective at delivering feedback. Now that you have these two activities completed, it is time to move on to the next activity, creating a pipeline of talent by developing your team.

Developing the Pipeline of Talent

The book The Leadership Pipeline is where I first learned about how to create a pipeline of talent. Yes you have to be a super recruiter, have an eye for talent and maintain bench strength, but it is more than that. Developing your team requires that you understand the skill requirements, time applications (time frames that govern how you work) and the work values (what people believe is important and becomes the focus of their effort) that change as we move from one position to the next.

Real Life Application

I was working as a District Manager for BBW and my Regional Manager gave me a copy of The Leadership Pipeline. Within 24 months, I was the #1 DM in the company. Why? Because I was winning the war on talent. I had a virtual pipeline of talent in my district and even shared my talent with districts around me. My managers were being promoted faster than I could count and taking opportunities in other BBW stores leaving constant openings in my stores. Word eventually got out about my district. I had managers knocking down my door looking for a position stemmed by their curiosity of what I was doing that was getting managers promoted.

I already knew that demand was greater than supply, after all, every retailer in my mall was looking for top talent. Most of those retailers paid more than I did. I had a choice to make. Was I going to keep doing things the way I had always done them or was I going to adopt the Leadership Pipeline mentality? It was obvious that I had to develop leaders internally and I had to find the right types leaders with the right skills to keep entering my pipeline.

Commitment to developing Talent can make you #1

When you understand the 3 components (Skills, Time Applications, Values) that change with passage to the next level you will begin to look at your talent in a new way. You can’t just poach leaders from other retailers or provide simple training to fill this pipeline.

You will need to identify candidates early, provided them with growth assignments, give them useful feedback and coach them.

This means you will need to help them adopt and learn the skills, time applications and values appropriate for the level you are preparing them for. Over the next couple of weeks, I will get into more technical detail about Passage One. I think it will feel like drinking from a firehose if I try and put it all in one post!

Time to Jump In

There is a lot to unpack here and getting a copy of the book, even if you only focus on the first couple chapters, might be helpful. The Leadership Pipeline (#affiliate)

I want to clarify the 3 Components that drive creating this leadership pipeline.
1. Skill Requirements: What skills are required to be effective at the role?
2. Time Applications: Time frames that govern how you work in this role.
3. Work Values: What people believe is important and becomes the focus of their effort to be successful in this role.

An easy activity would be to create a list of the 3 Components for each position on your leadership team. By understanding all three of these, you will be able to put strong action plans in place as you work to develop your leaders. If anything here doesn’t make sense, contact me (, I am happy to help.

Good luck as you begin to fill your pipeline!


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