“Leaders don’t create followers. They create more leaders,” – said Tom Peters

Scaling up an internal talent pipeline is not an easy job. But the strength of your present and future talent is a great predictor of your business’ success. According to research, organizations that invest in their own talent generate greater returns for their stakeholders.

What is more critical to an organization’s long-term health other than the cultivation of leaders for its future?

What is a leadership pipeline?

Leadership pipeline refers to a company’s procedure to build and maintain their leadership succession bench. It is a systematic process comprising all types of employee development, promotion, evaluation, and training.

Leadership pipelines can identify, nurture, and promote top talent when recognized correctly, enabling organizations to fill vacant positions internally instead of recruiting externally. This way, leadership pipelines also offer an organized pathway for grooming succession candidates.

It consists of a pool of candidates whom you consider worthy of joining when you have openings in the near future along with a process through which you can vet and check with those candidates even when there are no openings.

A successful talent pipeline comprises applicants you have met in person, whose resumes you have examined or even those whom you have met at informational interviews when there was no opening at your firm. Because you have already connected with them at some point, you don’t have to invest more time explaining about your company’s info as the applicant is already aware of it. When the right opportunity emerges, you can directly call the applicant at interview, and if everything goes right, make them an offer.

Leadership pipelines have many different shapes and sizes. To help you develop the best one, let’s look at which elements are shared across solid talent pipelines.

Steps to develop a talent pipeline

Following are the five steps that can help you develop, nurture, and optimize a pre-evaluated candidate pool –

1.   Design strategy

It will help leaders do the following-

  • Achieve goals faster.
  • Collaborate with a team member, recognize the optimal group structure and clarify all job responsibilities and tasks.
  • Manage timeline of how long people stay in their positions.
  • List experience and skills needed for each position.
  • Commitment to developing every person’s career.

2.   Application of new plan

A plan which is explained with excitement and clarity will be one that is embraced. Once the leadership pipeline strategy is designed for an organization, the process of sharing it with everyone is essential. Following are the most successful ways to execute a new plan –

  • Educate team leaders on how the new plan will grow their talent base.
  • Develop programs where teams can share wins with the entire organization.
  • Include milestones for teams to achieve and celebrate the achievement.
  • Add visuals to your leadership pipeline strategy that can link the dots of professional development with career development.

3.   Utilize talent assessments to target specific development gaps accurately

A supervisor’s judgment is essential to recognize a leader’s development requirements, but you cannot manage what you cannot measure. You can augment the supervisor’s perspective with assessments designed to offer a clear, objective view of the leader’s performance and potential. With the passage of time, the collected information of assessment results can be a great source of insight into the strengths and requirements of the organization’s leaders.

4.   Develop diversity goals in your talent pipeline strategy

Developing a pool of candidates is all about fine-tuning your talent acquisition strategies, which makes it a perfect opportunity to plan Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategies into your hiring practices at every level.

You can also use the pipeline to develop a diverse workforce by developing relationships with multicultural professional associations, veteran’s groups, and firms concentrating on women in the workplace.

As diversity efforts grow, be sure to share DEI success stories back into your employer branding.

5.   Employ an entire range of development resources

Think out of the box and include in-role development opportunities, mentoring and coaching, participation in formal learning programs, and cross-functional or special projects assignments.

“Succession planning and leadership development are natural allies because they share a vital and fundamental goal: getting the right skills in the right place.”

Why leadership development and succession planning are essential?

  • Retention and recruitment of the best talent.
  • Radical, rapid, and discontinuous change.
  • Greater leadership responsibility at lower levels.
  • Rising complex challenges.


Different levels of leadership require different skill set, emphasis, and time horizons.

Developing a reliable pipeline of talented entities that you constantly nurture, even when you don’t have any openings, is the most effective way to make sure you are attracting the best performers in your division. You can also save money on outside recruiters.

Start developing your talent pipeline today! But before that just remember, “Rome was not built in a day,” and neither will your talent pipeline. So, take baby steps, but get started today.

Here are four important pointers to assess your talent –

  • Candidates job challenges
  • Competencies
  • Organizational knowledge
  • Executive derailers (personality attributes)

“Don’t let fear and panic of resignations prevent you from creating a strong leadership pipeline strategy.”

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