Byron's Babbles

The Leadership Bottleneck!

Posted in Coaching, Education, Educational Leadership, Leadership, Strategic Planning by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 29, 2015


“The bottleneck is at the head of the bottle,” so the old saying goes. In other words, no business or organization is likely to be better than, or perform better than, its top management and leadership. As a management innovator, Peter Drucker built off of the existing knowledge of others to create and integrate missing knowledge into the organization. He called this practice “integration” (Maciariello, 2014). Top management and leadership is responsible for creating and for maintaining the spirit of the organization, which includes values, standards of conduct, and standards of quality.


So, the first task in designing and assessing an organization is the presence of an effective top management and leadership team with a strong spirit of performance. Close behind in importance is a program for developing talent to fill open management positions. Most call this the building of a bench. This athletic team analogy is appropriate. Study any successful athletic team and you will find a strong bench of players ready to perform at a moments notice. This year’s NCAA Tournament has given us many examples. Not the least of which would be Kentucky who just had their 38th season win defeating Notre Dame last night. I had the opportunity to watch this Kentucky team play in person during the tournament and it doesn’t matter who is on the floor for them – they are all great. We can certainly learn from them as we build our teams.


This building of a bench is very important to employee engagement. One of the things I am working very hard on for the school I now serve is a leadership academy for building our talent bench. We are going to take a group of our talented teacher leaders each year and put them through a program that will be individualized for their specific needs and interests. We are in the planning stages of this and I am sure I will blog about this in the future. In the meantime I will share a picture of a screenshot of some notes from a meeting about this, just this week.


In any major institution, such as a school corporation, the finding, developing, and proving out of leaders of tomorrow is an essential job to which the best leaders must give fully of their time and attention. Maciariello (2014) asked some great questions in this week’s reading: 

  • Is your organization preparing future leaders by giving significant responsibility and authority to lower level executives?
  • What has been the organization’s track record of finding successors for key positions inside versus outside?

These are certainly questions I will want to use as guides as we develop our bench. How about you?


Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. 


One Response

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  1. How Do We DeBottleneck? | Byron's Babbles said, on October 11, 2022 at 8:00 am

    […] the question, “How do we debottleneck?” I have actually blogged about bottlenecks before in The Leadership Bottleneck! At first I was going to say that the post I did back in 2015 was done in a different context, but […]


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