A scarcity of leaders is one of the most significant barriers to success in businesses all around the world. This problem is more severe now, as the global economy improves, firms want to rapidly expand their operations in new regions, and senior executives leave at an increasing pace.

The majority of procedures for identifying and nurturing prospective leaders inside an organization are severely inadequate. Businesses require an entirely new strategy. The Apprenticeship Model is a novel concept described in Leaders at All Levels.

It focuses on identifying leaders early and placing them in settings that push them to flourish quickly. It turns leadership development from a one-time activity managed by human resources into a daily activity that is completely interwoven into the business's fabric and in which line leaders play a key role.

How to sharpen your power of observation to spot potential leaders within an organization

  • Identify Leadership Talent Early and Correctly

Unlike financial statistics, which simply tell you where the firm has been, leadership is a leading predictor of a company's potential. It's critical to identify leadership talent early on. A high-potential applicant will have a strong desire to learn new skills, the ability to quickly absorb information and then convey it, and a natural proclivity for forging long-term connections and mobilizing people to accomplish goals. Most importantly, he or she will possess business acumen, or the ability to comprehend how an organization earns money.

  • The Boss as Mentor

The boss becomes a mentor and takes a personal interest in mentoring and developing his or her young leaders, assisting them in broadening their thinking, sharing experience and knowledge, and digging deep to discover each leader's particular abilities under the Apprenticeship Model. Even the finest mentor boss, however, cannot complete the task without the assistance of senior executives and human resources. These combined insights aid in detecting a leader's growth trajectory and informing judgments on where the leader should go next.

  • Recognize Leadership Potential

The Apprenticeship Model relies on early and accurate identification of leadership ability. An excellent example is a firm whose hidden weapon is the depth of its leadership, all the way to the top.

Essentials of Leadership Potential

A leader with people skills chooses and inspires the appropriate people, gets them to work effectively together as a team, and can detect and resolve coordination issues among groups of people. They also show a strong desire to hire individuals who are better than them and then use those subordinates to propel the company and themselves to new heights of achievement.

A business leader has the instinctive capacity to understand a company's overall picture, how it earns money, and how earnings and losses are connected with the balance sheet. Any leader may enhance their business acumen with practice, but some leaders are inherently stronger at it.

Where to Find High-Potential Leaders

Recruitment is the first step in finding high-potential leaders. Avoiding common blunders like misidentifying people as leaders who aren't, or overlooking great leaders in your midst, requires revisiting the talent pool regularly, removing those whose talents haven't materialized, and allowing for the addition of leaders whose talents have suddenly surfaced.

To maintain the talent pool varied and adaptable, it's critical to recruit future leaders from other organizations. Although bringing in outsiders as leaders at several levels below the CEO might disrupt an organization's cohesion, the importance of fresh ways of thinking makes it beneficial to bring in outsiders as leaders at several levels below the CEO.

Another source of leadership talent is the military. Its leadership training is unrivaled. People who have gone through it before and appear to have a natural interest in business are a solid choice.


Creating New Leadership Paths

While most organizations build rather strict leadership paths, they may be better served by developing more flexible leadership paths. Due to situational necessities or local talent shortfalls, some leaders will quickly advance to a top position. Others will emerge over a long period.

High-performing firms are now cultivating leaders on a national level, drawing on the cultural experiences of future leaders in each country.

The Crucial Role of Bosses

Others, including the boss, should pool their observations on the leader's activities, decisions, and demeanor. They may then determine where each leader is on his or her growth path. The goal is to keep leaders focused on the one or two things they must intentionally practice to polish their personal qualities and test and perhaps extend their talents. This is how concentric learning works. The more focused practice is done, the more capabilities are developed and the core capability is carved.

  • Deliberate Feedback

When leaders receive thoughtful feedback, they are grateful. They actively pursue it, and the boss-leader relationship grows more open and trusting as a result. Learning and self-correction occur more quickly as communication becomes more honest and spontaneous. If a leader does not listen and adjust, he or she is no longer deemed to be a high-potential leader. Deliberate feedback benefits every aspiring leader, but high-potentials need to keep their momentum going. Deliberate feedback should be a natural component of bosses' monthly and quarterly operational and budget evaluations. The boss should inquire about specifics and ask questions.

  • Keeping Track of a Leader’s Growth

Every boss should have a procedure in place for pausing to examine the progress of each direct report regularly. Once a quarter is a plenty for some employers. Those who make it a habit anticipate those moments with the same zeal that they anticipate their quarterly results. In addition to performance reviews and other data-driven assessments, this should be done. Most people believe that numerical evaluations are the most objective, however, statistics alone can be deceiving.

  • Dialogue as the Principal Tool

Periodic facilitated discourse among numerous persons who have witnessed the rising leader in action is critical to creating an accurate and nuanced calibration of the leader. The Apprenticeship Model lifts those talks above gossip by allowing individuals to talk about each leader in normal language, unrestricted by the prescribed competencies used by some firms. At least four persons with firsthand knowledge of the leader should participate in the dialogue, including the person's boss, several of the boss's peers, and preferably high-level leaders. The conversation should be moderated by HR.

Choosing the CEO Who Is Most Likely to Be Successful

The CEO succession process should be guided by three essential principles:

  • Recognize that the CEO's work is quantitatively and qualitatively distinct from all other jobs.
  • Recognize that no two CEO positions are the same. Every business has its own set of needs and possibilities, which the CEO must understand and address. The importance of "fit" cannot be overstated.
  • Recognize that CEOs are individuals with imperfections just like the rest of us.

The objective is to get to know the applicants as a whole, identifying the skills that make a particular leader stand out as the ideal person for the job at the time. Boards must elicit the best thinking from all of their members and make this decision as a group.


At all levels, businesses are frequently short on the amount and quality of leaders they require. The Apprenticeship Model of leadership development necessitates fundamentally different attitudes and mindsets, as well as significant organizational changes, and the benefits do not appear overnight. But, based on decades of observation of hundreds of CEOs in dozens of firms, it is eminently practical.

While making this case study I have used several business strategic techniques, and I have learned them after reading and listening to several books in audiable.com, Audiable.com is a great platform for book lovers and knowledge seekers. Click here to access unlimited number of podcasts, Audiobooks and more from anywhere, streaming and download to listen offline as well. Free 30 days trial

Discover more from Debasish Sinha | Author | Entrepreneur

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