Level 3 HR Leader
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Two weeks ago, Jim Wiggett wrote about what he has been seeing in the shifting demand by CEO’s from looking for traditional Human Resources ‘Partners’ to seeking Business Leaders wit
Level 3 HR Leader
posted at 9/29/2009 2:36 PM EDT
Two weeks ago, Jim Wiggett wrote about what he has been seeing in the shifting demand by CEO’s from looking for traditional Human Resources ‘Partners’ to seeking Business Leaders with Human Resources expertise to lead the function. These are HR leaders who see themselves first and foremost as ‘Business’ leaders who are making real, strategic-level, high valued contributions to their businesses to achieve market-leading performance.
Jim’s observations have been proven out by the results of a 360 assessment (from their managers peers, subordinates and line executives) that we developed and recently piloted with HR leaders from diverse industries. They were assessed against a set of competencies we have identified as those that differentiate a true HR ‘Business’ Leader, or what we call a ‘Level 3’ HR Leader. We assessed these senior level HR leaders against such competencies as Strategic Business Leadership, Strategic HR Leadership, Personal Leadership, Results Execution, Business and Functional Expert and Building Organizational Capacity. Through our experience in working with HR teams within our client organizations, these categories of competencies have been observed to be most closely tied to HR business leaders. And by assessing the behaviors behind each competency, the participants could get very specific feedback on what they needed to do better.
When we specifically examined the evaluations from the business heads, we learned that HR leaders are seen as very effective in getting results and are demonstrating strong personal leadership in their roles. In fact, they are demonstrating courage in expressing their opinions and are effective in influencing their clients. But we also learned that the business heads want the next level of HR leadership from their HR executives. They want to see HR moving out of a support role into playing a real leadership role in driving the successful execution of business results. They would like their HR leaders to be more effective at such things as the following:
* Using organizational diagnostics to assess how well their businesses are positioned to achieve business results
* Using frameworks for articulating organizational gaps between current and desired states
* Providing linkages between HR initiatives and plans to achieving business outcomes
* Developing structures, systems, processes and competencies required for high-impact organizational solutions
* Applying business information analytics for effective decision making
In their narratives, the line executives said such things as:
“Focus time and effort on MOST impactful and leverage your expertise rather than reacting to our requests.”
“You can have a persuasive effect on strategic business decisions if more empirical industry data was introduced to show where we are out of step.”
“Focus on a talent management process so the outcomes are more compelling and tangible to the executive leadership”
Our results are consistent with other studies conducted by such organizations as the Center for Effective Organizations at USC and the Corporate Leadership Council that continue to report that HR is lagging in driving strategy, and in being real business players. So the overall story is not new, but our assessment is more complete and focused in that it speaks to specific behaviors and skills needed for driving strategy and for being real business leaders. It is a story with a message from the business leader telling HR “I want you to be ahead of the business rather than just in support of it”. “I need more than partnership. I need a strategic business leader”
This is a story of increasing demand and a higher level expectation on the part of CEO’s and business heads. Today’s business leaders are WELL informed about the potential impact of human capital, culture, and organization on their businesses. They surely don’t have to look into HR journals to get educated, as they might have needed to years ago. They know they can’t successfully execute on their business priorities and plans if they don’t have the organizational capacity to do so.
So the demand is there. The question is whether HR leaders are ready to take up this charge, develop their skills and be prepared to make the value added contributions so critical to the achievement of business outcomes.
Deborah Barber, Principal
Jackson Hole Group