Some CEOs contribute an enormous amount of value to their companies, but most, it would seem, are worth far less than the large sums of money that they are paid. How do you go about choosing a winner rather than a loser? Is every company looking for pretty much the same person to be their CEO? Is it possible to take someone and train them up to become a good corporate leader? Ram Charan addresses these and many other questions in his book Leaders at All Levels: Deepening Your Talent Pool to Solve the Succession Crisis.
According to the author, leadership development usually happens on an ad hoc basis when a seasoned leader takes a special interest in a junior person and provides that person with the experiences and coaching to help him or her flourish. But why leave leadership development to chance? The book advocates an apprenticeship model of leadership development and recommends that the recognising and development of leadership potential in others become one of the primary duties of every leader within an organisation.
If you take the author literally, you will be devoting an enormous amount of your organisation’s time and resources to leadership development. If you subscribe to the theory that leadership ability is more an acquired art than an innate talent, and that the right sort of leadership makes an enormous difference in organisational outcomes, then what the book says is very helpful. I think I am a believer, but not such a fanatic as the author.