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TPRA Leadership Ladders: The Benefits of Understanding & Utilizing Leadership Ladders in Career Progression

“Emily was a mid-level manager in the risk management department of a major financial institution. One day, the company faced a significant challenge: a critical vendor experienced a data breach, exposing sensitive client information. The CEO tasked Emily with leading the Third Party Risk Management (TPRM) response team to address the crisis. Emily had handled vendor assessments before, but this situation required swift and decisive action. She quickly assembled a cross-functional team, including IT, legal, compliance, and communications experts. Emily knew that transparent communication and coordinated efforts were essential. She initiated daily briefings to keep everyone informed and aligned on the response strategy. Emily also reached out to the vendor, establishing an open line of communication to understand the breach's scope and implement immediate risk mitigation measures. Recognizing the need for long-term solutions, Emily led a thorough review of the company's TPRM framework. She identified gaps and proposed enhancements, such as more stringent vendor vetting processes and continuous monitoring systems. Her proactive approach not only mitigated the immediate risk but also strengthened the organization's overall TPRM program. The successful handling of the crisis and the subsequent improvements earned Emily high praise from senior leadership. Her ability to lead under pressure and implement effective risk management strategies led to her promotion to head of the TPRM division.”

This anecdote highlights how taking charge in a TPRM crisis, fostering collaboration, and driving systemic improvements can propel career growth and demonstrate essential leadership qualities.



Originally developed by TPRA's Women in TPRM "Lead" work group, “Leadership Ladders” is a training activity designed for all current and aspiring leaders within the Third Party Risk Management (TPRM) industry.  Each box on the slides and ladders-style game board is linked to a valuable resource–including customized guides, blogs, videos, quizzes, and more–with the goal of enhancing your leadership potential through buildable skills and expert insights. Any professional, regardless of what stage they're at in their career, can find value in this activity.


Leadership Ladders” involves focusing on the progression of leadership skills, traits, and responsibilities at different levels within an organization.  It is a transformative experience that challenges you to evolve and grow.

business professionals climbing out of risk text using ladders

  • Entry-Level Leadership: Focuses on the initial stage, key responsibilities, and essential skills (e.g., team leadership, basic project management).

  • Mid-Level Leadership: Covers the next stage, focusing on more complex responsibilities (e.g., departmental management, strategic planning).

  • Senior Leadership: Involves the traits and skills needed at the senior level (e.g., executive decision-making, vision setting).

  • Executive Leadership: Focuses on the top-tier leadership level, emphasizing overall organizational leadership and high-stakes decision-making.

Each of these levels requires a new set of skills and understanding to meet its challenges, focusing on specific responsibilities and collaborative efforts.  TPRA’s “Leadership Ladders” can assist with developing those skills no matter what level of leadership you are working towards.

  • Core Competencies (Communication, Collaboration, Confidence, Cultivating Relationships, Coaching)

  • TPRM Lifecycle

  • Budgeting

  • HR Process

  • Boundaries

  • Driving Strategy & Influencing Change

  • Navigating Executive Leadership Discussions

  • Crucial Conversations

  • Mentorship

  • Public Speaking & Getting Published


  1. Structured Progression

    1. Clear Pathways: Leadership Ladders provide a clear roadmap for career advancement, helping individuals understand the steps required to move up within an organization.

    2. Goal Setting: They enable employees to set specific, achievable goals for their career progression, making it easier to track and measure success.

  2. Skill Development

    1. Targeted Learning: Different levels on the Leadership Ladders require different skills. By understanding these levels, individuals can focus on developing the necessary skills for their current and next roles.

    2. Continuous Improvement: Leadership Ladders encourage a mindset of continuous learning and improvement, essential for personal and professional growth.

  3. Increased Engagement and Retention

    1. Motivation: Clear pathways for advancement can increase motivation and job satisfaction, as employees see tangible opportunities for growth.

    2. Retention: Organizations with well-defined pathways to leadership often experience lower turnover rates, as employees are more likely to stay when they see potential for career advancement.

  4. Effective Succession Planning

    1. Preparation for Leadership: Leadership Ladders help organizations identify and prepare future leaders, ensuring a smooth transition when current leaders retire or move on.

    2. Consistency: They help maintain organizational continuity by ensuring that new leaders are well-prepared and aligned with the company's culture and values.

  5. Enhanced Organizational Performance

    1. Better Leadership: As employees move up the ladder, they bring enhanced skills and experience to their roles, leading to more effective leadership and improved team performance.

    2. Strategic Alignment: Leadership Ladders ensure that individuals at all levels understand and align with the organization's strategic goals, leading to more cohesive and focused efforts.

  6. Personal Growth and Fulfillment

    1. Self-Awareness: Working through the Leadership Ladders activity requires self-assessment and reflection, helping individuals understand their strengths and areas for improvement.

    2. Achievement: Successfully progressing through the Leadership Ladders activity provides a sense of accomplishment and personal fulfillment, contributing to overall well-being.

  7. Competitive Advantage

    1. Attracting Talent: Organizations known for their strong leadership development programs are more attractive to top talent.

    2. Market Positioning: Effective leadership at all levels enhances an organization's reputation and competitive positioning in the market.


In summary, Leadership Ladders is great for both individuals and organizations. It provides a structured approach to career development, promoting skill growth, increased engagement, and retention. It also can assist with facilitating effective succession planning, enhance overall performance, and contribute to personal fulfillment. For organizations, they are a key tool in building a robust leadership pipeline and maintaining a competitive edge.



We encourage you to assess your current leadership level and work towards the next.

Have fun and expand your knowledge: – play TPRA’s thought-provoking Leadership Ladders game enriched with additional resources such as videos, interviews & quizzes, and whitepapers.  


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