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Editorial Team
30 Nov 2017



What the Best HR Leaders Know and Do

hr leadership skills

The difference between “Knowing” & “Realizing” is the same as “Success” & “Failure”.

Human Capital Strategy refers to the degree to which you and your team understand how to integrate business strategy and human capital strategy and how to focus on a few priorities that matter most to the business. You demonstrate that people priorities must be derived first and foremost from understanding the value chain by which your business makes money. Further, it includes comprehending how human capital challenges are overcome undertaking actionable steps, to maximise the business results.

Leadership and Talent Development refers to the extent to which you and your team know the best ways to identify, acquire, and develop leaders and another key talent in the organisation and have the willingness and ability to segment pivotal roles and people to apply limited resources to the highest leverage talent.

Change Leadership refers to how well you and your team take an active leadership role in planning and orchestrating both routine and transformational change and have an understanding of the steps needed to make it happen and to overcome resistance along the way.

Advice and Partnership refer to the ability that you and your team members have to provide trusted coaching and counsel to the operating, line, and/or other functional leaders you support. It implies knowing and speaking the language of the business, but perhaps more importantly, it is heavily reliant on the ability to ask good questions first—the kind of questions that cause others to make good decisions and tough choices about business and people issues.

Driving Performance refers to the comprehensive knowledge that you and your team have to utilise the full array of tools that influence business performance. These tools might include building a performance culture, ensuring appropriate incentives and consequences are in place to influence the right behaviors, maximizing the value of compensation and benefits-related costs, reducing headcount, increasing management spans of control, minimizing the number of organizational layers, and/or redesigning organizations to be more effective and less costly.

Board Relationships refer to how much you and your team understand and contribute to the HR matters that board members care about. Increasingly, boards are paying attention to executive compensation at the CEO and leadership team levels; succession planning and talent management for the CEO roles, leadership team roles, and high potential and other pivotal roles; diversity and inclusion initiatives and progress; workforce engagement scores and actions; employee safety and well-being; environmental sustainability efforts and their contribution to employment value propositions or brands; and human capital dashboards supported by people analytics. Depending on your role and level in the organization, you may find yourself spending more time with board members personally on these and related matters, or you may be working indirectly on projects and initiatives that are of increasing interest to board members—even if you are not personally spending time with the board.

HR Excellence refers to the degree to which you and your team are focusing on assessing whether the HR organization is up to the task of leading and addressing the human capital issues and challenges your organization is facing. It suggests a willingness and ability to look in the mirror and ask yourself: “Do we have the talent, processes, operating model, and credibility we need in HR to do what the company needs from us and if not, what are we doing about it?”

Future of HR refers to the ability you and your team have to see around corners, to understand the changing nature of the workforce, workplace, and work itself—and the implications these trends have on how HR work, HR people, HR technology, and HR organizations will have to change to remain relevant and add value in the future.

The above HR capabilities are certainly not all-encompassing, nor are they intended to be. They are instead meant to highlight the things I see the very best HR people paying attention to and addressing. The other things you are doing, such as employee relations, high volume hiring, policy interpretation, shared services, and more, are all extremely important and foundational to high-quality HR work. Generally speaking, however, they are not going to differentiate you, except negatively. In other words, doing them well is table stakes. Doing them poorly generally means you won’t be around long enough to worry about the other stuff anyway.


Credits: Excerpt from the Book ‘THREE: The Human Resources Emerging Executive’. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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