Table of Contents Hide
  1. Core Skills for Rising HR Leaders
    1. Business and Finance Acumen
    2. Data Analysis and Interpretation
    3. Consulting and Advisory Skills
    4. Pitching and Storytelling
  2. Expanding Your Perspective as Leader
    1. Pursue Cross Functional Roles
    2. Shadow Executives
    3. Volunteer for Global Initiatives
    4. Learn continuously
  3. Developing HR Leadership Soft Skills
    1. Radiate Executive Presence
    2. Build Trust
    3. Persuade Powerfully
    4. Motivate and Mentor
  4. Structuring Your Professional Growth Plan
    1. Set Stretch Goals
    2. Maintain an Opportunities Pipeline
    3. Enrich Your Learning Habits
    4. Build Buffer Relationships
  5. Refining HR Leadership Mindsets
    1. Obsess Over Customer Needs
    2. Value Wild Ideas and Radical Experiments
    3. Spot Interconnections
    4. Take Responsibility for Outcomes
  6. Managing Up to HR Executive Sponsors
    1. Initiate 1:1 Touchpoints
    2. Address Elephants in the Room
    3. Equip Them to Defend HR
    4. Celebrate Shared Milestones
  7. Rotational Program Best Practices
    1. Research Neural Paths
    2. Codify Competency Development
    3. Sponsor Intentional Cross-Training
    4. Prevent Knowledge Loss
  8. Seeking High Potential HR Designations
    1. Quantify Your Impact
    2. Align Brand With Fast Growth
    3. LeverageAlumni Connections
    4. Spotlight Global Perspectives
  9. Transitioning as New HR Leaders
    1. Convene a Talent Advisory Board
    2. Conduct a Culture Diagnostic
    3. Meet Key Influencers 1:1
    4. Spotlight Quick Employee Wins
  10. Upskilling for Modern HR Challenges
    1. Brush Up Data Science Foundation
    2. Gain Tech Translator Skills
    3. Understand Compliance Intricacies
    4. Build Manager Coaching Expertise
  11. Stretch Opportunities Advancing Careers
    1. Shadow Your CEO
    2. Launch a New Business Unit
    3. Lead Acquisition Integration
    4. Spearhead a Spinoff
  12. Overcoming Ageism Barriers in HR
    1. Modernize Your Profile
    2. Seek Out Younger Allies
    3. Remain Coachable
    4. Quantify Your Currency
  13. FAQs: HR Leadership and Development
    1. What are must-have technical skills for aspiring Chief Human Resources Officers (CHRO)?
    2. What specialized credentials help HR managers advance as strategic business partners?
    3. How can HR directors with only public company experience prepare for a private equity backed role?
    4. Which HR jobs allow the greatest exposure interacting with the C-suite?
    5. What is the best approach for an HR Manager to build new capabilities beyond current functional scope?
    6. What resources help HR Business Partners identify appropriate vs. overly demanding executive requests?
    7. How should HR managers evaluate potential lateral rotation opportunities to develop leadership skills?
    8. What risks contribute to new HR leaders failing early into positions during the first 90 days?
    9. How can HR executives expand understanding of key business priorities outside standard HR domains?
    10. What contributing factors most influence CHRO consideration for CEO positions?

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, the role of Human Resources HR leaders has become increasingly crucial. HR professionals are not just responsible for managing administrative tasks; they are also strategic partners in driving organizational success. To excel in this dynamic field, HR leaders must possess a diverse set of skills and competencies, continually develop themselves professionally, and often pursue professional certifications to validate their expertise. This article explores the essential skills and competencies for HR leaders, the significance of professional development in HR, and the various certifications available in the field.

Core Skills for Rising HR Leaders

Business and Finance Acumen

Understand key drivers of profitability, how to forecast using financial models, capital allocation tradeoffs, investor priorities, and market dynamics impacting budgets to earn credibility weighing in on decisions.

Data Analysis and Interpretation

HR now runs on metrics so develop fluency synthesizing trends from people analytics dashboards, segmentation flows, benchmarking, and talent metric correlations to drive informed strategies.

Consulting and Advisory Skills

Master coaching leaders on org design, change management, building inclusive cultures, upskilling staff, mindfulness programs and other critical but sensitive topics top leaders rely on HR expertise for.

Pitching and Storytelling

Learn creative ways to package proposals from vision to tactics, leveraging data, heartfelt anecdotes and celebration of pilots for maximal C-Suite buy-in and investment to fuel HR’s progressive plans.

Expanding Your Perspective as Leader

Pursue Cross Functional Roles

Take temporary assignments in finance, sales, R&D and other critical business units to absorb new metrics, planning processes and decision dynamics before returning to HR with broader leadership maturity.

Shadow Executives

Request permission to quietly observe top company leaders during key meetings, customer visits, board presentations, media interviews and strategy retreats to appreciate their perspectives, styles and rapport up close.

Volunteer for Global Initiatives

Raise your hand to lead vital but risky multi-region projects allowing glimpses into the priorities, norms, constraints and talent realities guiding leaders across international offices. Exposure builds cultural fluency.

Learn continuously

Block off 10% of work hours for self-driven exploration of topics like design thinking, data visualization tools, supply chain dynamics, new technologies or even coding to spur creative ideas HR can borrow from other industries.

Developing HR Leadership Soft Skills

Radiate Executive Presence

Refine posture, gravitas in messaging, skill directing room dynamics, and ability to challenge traditional notions confidently yet respectfully – all traits that set influential HRBPs apart when advising senior peers.

Build Trust

Follow through reliably, admit knowledge gaps without hesitation, share credit widely for wins and steer through ambiguity all while maintaining high integrity standards expected from credible talent advisors to the CEO.

Persuade Powerfully

Master strategically framing progressive ideas using ROI projections, competitive data, pilot reservations, celebrity CEO endorsements and linking agendas to hot topics on the leadership’s priority list for maximum influence.

Motivate and Mentor

From one-on-one coaching and shout outs in all hands meetings to sponsoring up-and coming rockstars’ promotions and event speaking opportunities, nurture excellence at all levels.

Structuring Your Professional Growth Plan

Set Stretch Goals

Outline measurable steps to develop in-demand skills, spearhead new initiatives delivering value, build networks with respected veterans, earn niche credentials and access career accelerating assignments.

Maintain an Opportunities Pipeline

Continually engage with mentors, monitors job boards and visit talent events hunting for next step openings and developmental stretch assignments to pivot into before urgent pressure necessitates a reactive exit.

Enrich Your Learning Habits

Block off monthly reading, podcast and online course consumption goals to stay on pulse of industry change and role-relevant domains so your perspective remains irreplaceable and highly marketable.

Build Buffer Relationships

Proactively nurture personal sponsor relationships with executives outside your function who know your contributions firsthand and can activate advocate networks on your behalf if needed during transitional periods.

Refining HR Leadership Mindsets

Obsess Over Customer Needs

Whether the customer is a hiring manager, frustrated employee, lean department head or overwhelmed frontline supervisor, assume their reality intimately addressing friction points and unmet needs creatively.

Value Wild Ideas and Radical Experiments

From scrapping performance ratings, AI video interview screening, anonymous pay negotiations and manager activity trackers to self-forming project groups, outdoor walking meetings andpet friendly offices, consider every outlandish idea before ruling concepts out.

Spot Interconnections

Leading HR strategists trace relationships spanning compensation philosophy misalignment relative to marcomm employer branding perceptions, remote hiring biases slowing DEI advancement and automation fears driving unionization rumblings to identify root opportunity areas.

Take Responsibility for Outcomes

When projects stall or innovations flop, avoid excuses and disappointment by focusing energies on lessons learned, process gaps that limited adoption by the intended audience and how to refine approaches for greater relevance and buy in next go round.

Managing Up to HR Executive Sponsors

Initiate 1:1 Touchpoints

Schedule recurring opportunities to brief C-Suite champions directly on priority talent programs rather than limiting insights to their glimpse into wider leadership meetings allowing targeted dialogue driving stronger sponsorship.

Address Elephants in the Room

If observing executive shadows that signal lack of alignment with HR diversity priorities as example, confront issues delicately but directly through evidence backed talking points to understand and debias rather than ignoring or avoiding controversial points of tension allowing misperceptions to linger.

Equip Them to Defend HR

During budget debates or strategy sessions, provide influential inheritors of HR’s future focused vision tailored slide decks spotlighting pilot micro wins, adoption analytics and employee testimonials so numbers and stories speak for themselves.

Celebrate Shared Milestones

Recognizing executives’ talent agenda victories through team emails, handwritten notes and internal social promotion boosts morale while strengthening productive bonds with advocates best positioned to fuel HR leaders’ innovation mandates when positioned for the top job themselves one day.

Rotational Program Best Practices

Research Neural Paths

Analyze alumni who completed program to pinpoint assignments and business units that amplified leadership readiness most for subsequent stellar careers to optimize future routing patterns.

Codify Competency Development

Outline knowledge, skills and relationships strengthened by each rotation station – whether finance acumen, global perspectives, business development savvy or location leadership familiarity – so placements directly build C-Suite gaps.

Finance staffers pursuing a rotation into HR Headquarters should first shadow CHRO through strategy meetings, tech vendor demos, budget planning sessions, and external conferences to ramp functional exposure before leading standalone projects.

Prevent Knowledge Loss

Schedule check in calls as Rotational Program members transition to connect rising talent with former managers now serving as trusted advisors on clarifying role history, sharing key docs and reminding unique value they bring despite moving on.

Seeking High Potential HR Designations

Quantify Your Impact

Capture hard metrics around programs launched, lingering issues resolved, efficiency gains, budget dollars saved, and revenue generated thanks to your operational or strategic contributions.

Align Brand With Fast Growth

Pursue stretch assignments on newly funded initiatives, emerging tech advising, expansion team leadership and culture redesigns connected to next gen priorities so your work portfolio mirrors company momentum.

LeverageAlumni Connections

Rotate through leadership roles filled by HiPo graduates who themselves represent the program’s merit to inherit their sponsors who can vouch for your comparable promise championing your candidacy internally.

Spotlight Global Perspectives

Volunteering to develop best practices during international M&A integrations, launching in growth market regions and leading expat ESOP policy advisory councils builds differentiated offshoring-ready expertise.

Transitioning as New HR Leaders

Convene a Talent Advisory Board

Assemble diverse braintrust of staffing heads, frontline hiring managers, recruiters, prominent alumni, DEI thought leaders and niche experts to pressure test priority policies through gated focus group style exchange harvesting non obvious perspectives.

Conduct a Culture Diagnostic

Commission external analysis from top tier organizational change partners interviewing recent joiners, seasoned staff and exited alumni along with granular engagement data mining to fully grasp trust gaps, blindspots on inclusion and actual employer branding perceptions.

Meet Key Influencers 1:1

Invest dedicated months having informal coffee chats with prominent union stewards, people managers boasting significant staff spans, outspoken skeptics and other influencers outside your function to build understanding before pushing change.

Spotlight Quick Employee Wins

Building early staff goodwill by relaxing minor policies around work from home flexibility, professional development requirements or minor grievance concessions buys crucial grace tackling later complex priorities like automation planning, skills forecasting and performance rating overhaul.

Upskilling for Modern HR Challenges

Brush Up Data Science Foundation

Review statistical concepts like regression analysis, sentiment modeling, causal data interpretations, variable relationships and confidence intervals to not get lost in technical discussions around AI ethics, algorithm bias detection and automation ML.

Gain Tech Translator Skills

Become conversant discussing APIs, NLP, UI/UX principles, BYOD security policies, data automation tools like RPA and blockchain enabled verification so strategic dialogues with CIOs and vendors avoid getting stuck defining basic capabilities.

Understand Compliance Intricacies

With regulators focused on pay equity enforcement, gig labor rules, employee data handling and automation transparency, ensure sound grasp of employment law nuances, workplace litigation precedents, ADA guidance and otherSources: opics block emerging tech adoption.

Build Manager Coaching Expertise

Develop certified advisory skills around crucial but sensitive topics like nurturing team psychological safety during remote ramp ups, running inclusive hybrid meetings, assessing skills gaps without bias and leading without directives to guide people leader maturity.

Stretch Opportunities Advancing Careers

Shadow Your CEO

Gain exposure into corporate vision, leadership style, executive presence, communication rhythms, outside counseling relationships and off site agenda setting that primes your own perspective for the top HR role interfacing closely among elite peers.

Launch a New Business Unit

Define and scale every aspect of people operations for a newly funded internal venture from innovative recruiting, project based performance management, specialist development tracks and cultivating agile creative culture practically from scratch.

Lead Acquisition Integration

Navigate massive combination of distinct systems, processes, leadership dynamics and cultural dialogues bridging mega entities through diplomacy defining new forged vision, org construction, change protocols and synergy capture mechanisms.

Spearhead a Spinoff

Orchestrate a bold corporate carveout or IPO that places you directing all HR separation activities from reimagined equity strategies, talent continuity incentives, retained benefit policies, leadership communications and more for Wall Street eyed newco.

Overcoming Ageism Barriers in HR

Modernize Your Profile

Expand digital body of work sharing insights on TikTok, Clubhouse and startup Slack channels, highlighting AI expertise via LinkedIn Skills Assessments and discussing remote hiring trends on targeted podcasts.

Seek Out Younger Allies

Build genuine rapports, not just transactional mentoring, with respected managers significantly younger gaining exposure to their leadership style insights, career path priorities, tech adoption advice and recommendations tailored to your rebranding goals.

Remain Coachable

Exhibit willingness to reverse long held opinions, explore unfamiliar ideas with openness and acknowledge gaps welcoming junior peers to suggest better approaches rather than rejecting modern practices outright due to pride or assumptions of superior wisdom with age.

Quantify Your Currency

Optimize your resume for modern ATS system parsing highlighting programs innovated recently, emerging analytics leveraged, budget dollars saved through creativitity, young talent groomed and other details quantifying your current impact versus historical or dated contributions alone.

Case Studies:

  1. Implementing AI in Recruitment: A large multinational corporation implemented AI-driven recruitment tools to streamline their hiring process. By leveraging AI algorithms to screen resumes and conduct initial interviews, they significantly reduced time-to-hire and improved candidate quality.
  2. Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives: A mid-sized tech company launched a comprehensive diversity and inclusion program aimed at fostering a more inclusive workplace culture. Through targeted recruitment efforts, unconscious bias training, and employee resource groups, they achieved greater diversity in their workforce and improved employee satisfaction.
  3. Remote Work Transition: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a financial services firm transitioned to remote work arrangements. HR leaders played a crucial role in facilitating this transition by implementing remote work policies, providing technology infrastructure, and offering support to employees navigating remote work challenges.
  4. Leadership Development Program: A healthcare organization invested in a leadership development program to cultivate the next generation of leaders. By providing training in strategic thinking, emotional intelligence, and change management, they groomed high-potential employees for leadership roles, driving organizational growth and innovation.
  5. Employee Well-being Initiatives: A retail company introduced holistic employee well-being initiatives to support the mental, physical, and emotional health of their workforce. Through programs such as wellness workshops, flexible work arrangements, and access to mental health resources, they enhanced employee engagement, retention, and productivity.

Key Insights:

  1. Adaptability is Key: HR leaders must remain agile and adaptable in the face of changing workplace dynamics, technological advancements, and global events such as pandemics or economic shifts.
  2. Focus on Diversity and Inclusion: Building a diverse and inclusive workplace is not only ethically imperative but also essential for driving innovation, attracting top talent, and fostering employee engagement.
  3. Invest in Professional Development: Continuous learning and development are critical for HR professionals to stay abreast of industry trends, best practices, and regulatory changes.
  4. Embrace Technology: Leveraging technology such as AI, data analytics, and HR software can streamline HR processes, improve efficiency, and enhance decision-making.
  5. Prioritize Employee Well-being: Employee well-being should be a top priority for HR leaders, as it directly impacts morale, productivity, and retention. Implementing initiatives to support employee well-being can yield significant returns in terms of organizational performance and employee satisfaction.

FAQs: HR Leadership and Development

What are must-have technical skills for aspiring Chief Human Resources Officers (CHRO)?

Critical CHRO tech skills in the modern age span data literacy, analytics fluency, automation and AI conversancy, cloud systems mastery, candidate experience platforms expertise, mobile security/policy grasp and comfort directing complex modernization initiatives across fragmented technology stacks.

What specialized credentials help HR managers advance as strategic business partners?

In-demand HR specializations with resume value include Associational Talent Development (ATD) certifications in instructional design, Harvard Business School online courses on financial accounting and data analytics, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) senior certified professional and tech focused badges like AI Fundamentals credentials.

How can HR directors with only public company experience prepare for a private equity backed role?

The key shift for private equity centered CHRO roles is grasping accelerated decision velocity, quarter-to-quarter goal posts as priority, ownership mindsets nurturing long term sustainable growth, varied stakeholder nuances and heightened focus on operational metrics driving firm valuations during fund life cycles or preparing for IPO.

Which HR jobs allow the greatest exposure interacting with the C-suite?

High visibility roles include Talent/Recruiting Leaders delivering critical hires, Organization Development heads frequently briefing execs during integrations or restructures, HR Generalists embedded on corporate strategy teams, Compensation heads negotiating executive packages/incentives, and Learning/Development leads accountable for leadership training budget.

What is the best approach for an HR Manager to build new capabilities beyond current functional scope?

Options like asking leadership for approval to shadow other departments, taking intensive credentialing courses across HR domains, leading volunteer projects utilizing new skills, joining cross-functional special projects task forces and proactively pitching piloting ideas utilizing unfamiliar capabilities all expand proficiencies.

What resources help HR Business Partners identify appropriate vs. overly demanding executive requests?

SHRM maintains thresholds on acceptable ratios of HR Generalists supporting employee bases of certain sizes. Staffing models from leading labor consultancies provide benchmarks balancing workload capacities too. Anonymous surveys gauging team burnout risks also provide leverage re-scoping executive demands or securing additional budget/roles.

How should HR managers evaluate potential lateral rotation opportunities to develop leadership skills?

Assessing lateral move potential requires weighing new responsibilities for skill stretch, influence upside based on visibility with decision makers, networking access to mentors and sponsors in target function, philosophical alignment to desired culture and values, availability of eligible advancement paths post-rotation and the duration commitment required.

What risks contribute to new HR leaders failing early into positions during the first 90 days?

Missteps include losing talent inherited from predecessors due to cultural/strategic mismatches, underestimating complexities of transformation initiatives mid-flight, failing to detect brewing executive team dysfunctions or employee unrest, allowing budget control to shift from HR to Ops or Finance and getting stuck only externally focused rather external and internal priorities.

How can HR executives expand understanding of key business priorities outside standard HR domains?

Options include requesting P&L data pulls with Finance peers to review drivers and scenario models together, visiting call center spaces monthly to absorb customer pain points directly from source with sales leaders, sitting in packaging plants with Operations leaders to experience production realities guiding their priorities firsthand and traversing all levels of corporate structure through skip level meeting rotations.

What contributing factors most influence CHRO consideration for CEO positions?

Typical precursors include recent business unit leadership expansions driving P&L accountability, increased C-suite visibility through leading high stakes enterprise initiatives, consistent talent agenda prioritization reflected in improving retention and recruiter satisfaction metrics, strong ex

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