4 Strengths of Every Great HR Leader

Human resources is an integral part of every organization. Like any department, HR sees its impact limited when outsiders do not understand its key value proposition. Among other leadership strengths, HR is known for employee development, compliance, and advocating for the organization and individual employees.

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HR teams perform best when the rest of the C-suite is bought in on HR priorities and goals. Commonly criticisms of HR teams include: not being sufficiently strategic, not being financially savvy, having weak customer focus or being more internally focused than externally guided. The best HR leaders overcome these obstacles while staying true to HR’s focus on people in the following four ways.

Leadership Strengths Examples

1. Be connected to the outside world.

Strong leaders in human resources understand who the external customer is and how their organization makes money. They make an effort to understand the needs and concerns of the organization’s customer.

When a leader understands the market, the customer, and revenue drivers, he or she can create policies and solutions that support the organization’s business goals. Incentive compensation provides one example. The incentive compensation plan drives the behavior of employees. If the plan is developed without concern for the customer or the market, employees’ behaviors may not lead to achievement of the organization’s goals.

2. Develop a strategic perspective.

HR is often criticized for being focused on day-to-day operations instead of having a long-term strategic vision. Great HR leaders understand their organization’s strategy and vision. As a result, they align their projects and initiatives with the needs of the organization.

Strong HR leaders also understand what high performance looks like to senior leaders and management. This helps the leader develop the competencies needed for each description, which is part of the performance management process. This also allows them to create talent development programs to ensure future success.

Strong leaders are able to communicate how their programs can strengthen the organization.

Strong leaders are able to communicate how their programs can strengthen the organization. An example of this would be implementing leadership development as part of a succession planning process. Organizations value a strong succession plan with the ability to replace current leaders if they leave the company.

3. Be able to solve problems and analyze issues in a timely fashion.

The HR team is often criticized for being slow to roll out initiatives. This is based on the belief that changing behavior takes time; slowing down the process is often advised.

Great HR leaders can make quick, ethical decisions during a crisis. They understand labor laws and can identify potential employee and management problems. Strong leaders proactively address potential conflict before it escalates, thereby protecting the company from any adverse actions by employees.

4. Establish stretch goals for the department.

Great HR leaders are continuously learning. They network to gain new ideas and enhance their leadership skills. Continuous learning leads itself to continuous improvement.

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Excellent HR leaders also keep abreast of the hiring needs of the organization, and a finger on the pulse of the challenges inherent to the management of a multigenerational workforce. Great leaders continuously look for ways to transform their organization, in step with any changes affecting the relevant industry.