Leadership Pipeline: Discover the 6 Stages!

By Dickson Osas

Today, we will talk a little about each stage of the Leadership Pipeline.

STAGE 1 — Self-Leading to Lead Others

Here we are at the base, at the beginning of our pipeline. We’re talking about young people who have just been hired for a team. Generally, her knowledge is primarily technical, and she understands the role she performs. The biggest challenges of this stage are learning how to do your job well, deliver tasks on time, and collaborate with others on the team.

When a person demonstrates competence, reliability, and the ability to work in a team, they usually begin to receive more significant challenges that require getting to know the company’s culture, processes, and planning.


To get to the first transition, a person needs to be able to overcome a huge challenge. In addition to doing her job well, delivering her assignments on time, and collaborating, she needs to start developing management skills and demonstrate that she can lead others. That is, she needs to understand that dedicating herself to the development of other people and having additional tasks such as planning, monitoring, and guiding will be necessary for her career.

When this happens, these people are usually promoted or placed as sub-managers, helping the person leading the group to manage the group in question.

STAGE 2 — Leading Others to Lead Leaders

After going through the transition period, the most significant difference between this stage and the previous one is that now there are no more individual and specific tasks. At this stage, the lead person should focus on managing, planning, and managing people full-time.

The main task here is to start preparing people on the team who, like this one, are also beginning to demonstrate that they are developing the skills necessary to go through the first transition. So, in addition to managing a team, this lead person should start assigning leadership-related tasks to such people to see if they can handle this extra workload.

Then, by selecting which people have that profile, the lead person will begin to prepare for the next transition. Therefore, she must guide and train others to take her place.


The leading person is ready to start leading the leadership they have prepared. This transition is tough as few companies provide coaching training or something necessary to understand how to be a good leader. Thus, this knowledge must be learned several times from the outside.

By succeeding in establishing others as independent leaders, the original leading person can move forward and find themselves in the next stage.

STAGE 3 — Lead leaders to lead a role

Here, we have a leader person with a series of other leaders below him, leading smaller teams. This stage is perhaps the most important and the most arduous because it will be what will form the necessary maturity of a leader person to reach even higher positions.

This is because challenges that were not so noticeable before began to arise. For example, each collaborating person on each team is at least two stages earlier, which makes communication more complicated. Additionally, to start the next transition, the lead person, in this case, needs to begin specializing in areas that he was previously unaware of. After all, the next step is to lead an entire function.


The person here is preparing to become a functional leader. This means that she will be responsible for an entire sector, which includes top leaders (who will be the people formed previously in stage 2), team leaders (people created by the people in stage 2), and minor leaders, who are responsible for small teams.

An example to be explicit. If you were a managerial person, you might now be transitioning into a functional finance leader position. This means that all areas within finance are your responsibility (payments, cash, administration, etc.)

STAGE 4 — Lead a Function to Lead a Business

In Stage 4, we will have the giant leap. The lead person currently manages the responsible sector from which he came. However, things will get more complex and more prominent. Now that she is a functional leader, she must learn to work together to make structural decisions with other leaders from other sectors who occupy the same level.

This person must also delve into other functions and areas within the company, getting to know every inch of the organizational structure. At this point, she will need more maturity, managerial experience, sound business acumen, and a short-term and long-term perspective.


The functional leader who proves that he knows the business and has a good view of all industries, not just his own, begins the transition to the next stage of leadership. From now on, she will become the director or leader responsible for a company unit. For some companies, this may be the peak. This is the case for companies that are not yet that large and do not have third-party companies or more units in other geographic locations.

In this case, having the necessary maturity and experience, the person will be part of the unit’s board of directors, responsible for leading the business.

STAGE 5 — Lead a Business to Lead a Business Group

At this stage, business leaders are more autonomous and have greater decision-making power within the company. They are the authority in their unit, representing all the teams and leaders.

Here, the responsibilities are entirely unpredictable and new. The person must have a firm grip and know like the back of his hand every aspect of the company he works for. Skills now include dealing with a wide variety of people and anticipating problems from every industry and function within the company. After all, they will all be reporting to her at the end.

This is when communication with other business leaders from other company units begins. Communication between them is essential to coherence in their ways of acting.


How to be in transition to something even bigger? Simple. A person can do so well in his unit that he may have to take care of an even more extensive set of units just like his own. Soon, she, little by little, begins to become a person who will be responsible for more than one company. For example, conglomerates with companies such as Alphabet Inc., which owns Google, could take the lead in other completely different companies.

The challenge lies in succeeding not only in your organizational unit but in a completely different one. This question may present more challenges than it appears.

STAGE 6 — leading a business group to lead an entire enterprise

By taking control of two or more companies that may or may not be linked to the company he naturally worked for, the person should be able to develop some skills well to reach the last stage, which is the top leadership: the corporate one.

  1. It must be able to devise a macro strategy to correctly allocate capital to each company, sector, area, subarea, team, and team;
  2. Know which stage 4 people are ready to take on stage 5 (this must be done before actually taking on the role of leading a business group);
  3. Understand market dynamics at the enterprise level, making a portfolio — this means understanding, within your business group, which one is most profitable, which one is eligible for mergers or sales and which other companies would be suitable for acquisitions;
  4. Assess whether the group of companies has everything it needs to continue surviving. This includes thinking with the resources at hand, objectively and purely analytically.

By honing these skills and turning your thinking to the global level, the person is prepared for the last transition.


Here, my destiny is to be a corporate leader—the highest possible level within a company. We are talking about CEOs, chairman, chairwomen, etc.

In this case, corporate leaders need to realize that the change will now be subtle. First, the vision, which was previously purely strategic, should become innovative and creative, looking to the future and possible growth opportunities. The focus will now be on the whole, thinking about the market and the concept of the enterprise. Each decision will profoundly impact the previous steps, so few will be made at this level.

This transition faces two very complex problems:

  1. It is difficult to understand that there should be a change in posture from the previous position.
  2. There is almost no way to prepare for this position as so few places are available.