High Performance Organizations Build the Bench

The Chess Not Checkers project set out to discover the “secrets” of High Performance Organizations (HPO).

Mark Miller and his team spent years to determine what separates the best from all the rest. In the end, they identified four primary “moves” all HPOs make… They Bet on Leadership, Act as One, Win the Heart and Excel at Execution. But, this was not enough; they wanted to know HOW they do these things so well. The answers were found in their “Best Practices.”

After the book, Chess Not Checkers was completed, Mark knew leaders would want the more tactical, application ideas embedded in the best practices. So, his response was to create the Chess Not Checkers Field Guide.  Mark asked me to be the co-author on this effort. Below is an excerpt from the Field Guide section on how HPOs Build the Bench!

Build the Bench

One of the most underrated best practices you can pursue if you are attempting to Bet on Leadership is to remember to Build the Bench. Sports teams are mindful of this; recognizing at any moment, at every position, someone needs to be ready to move from the role of backup to starter. Whether through turnover or injury, a next-man-up mentality is vital for a program’s success. Business should be no different.

If an organization intends to grow, a key focus of the leadership team must be to Build the Bench. Strong leaders do not have a scarcity mindset, fearing for their jobs if they help their direct reports grow. Actually, the opposite is true. Anytime you find leaders who can replace themselves, they are the last people you want to leave.

[Tweet "The ability to develop talent is one of the most important skills a person can possess."]

Like successful coaches, High Performance Organization leaders not only recruit great talent, they also enhance it. By identifying a clear picture of what they are trying to develop, they are able to create a clear path and close skill gaps that block the way. Organizations who focus on building the bench are also locked in on finding emerging leaders. They are always looking to fill a spot with a talented backup. These teams have development plans for those on the rise, and they systematically challenge everyone in the organization to grow to the next level.

If you truly want to create a leadership culture, don’t forget to build your bench. At some point you will need it,  especially  if  you  expect  to  achieve  championship  results.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What are doing to develop your leadership bench?

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