Influencing the C-Suite: advice for HR leaders

by Human Capital18 Mar 2014
HR directors become successful leaders by demonstrating their value on a consistent basis, leading them into positions where they can genuinely influence outcomes at the highest level.
But establishing and maintaining credibility and value is an ongoing process, said Susan Davies, Director of Human Resources, Administration and Customer Service at TNT.
“If you really want to develop influence, you’ve got to have credibility and if you want a seat at the boardroom table you have got to be adding value. This means having a deeper understanding of the business itself – how it operates, what customers are expecting, sustained profitability – and then you need to deliver around these three imperatives,” she said.
“If you are doing activities that are not linked to at least one of these things, you are probably wasting time and money.”
Dealing with politics in the workplace is unavoidable, she added, but you can attempt to handle issues of ego and politics before they impact on your ability to influence and effect change.
In these situations, Davies suggested HR professionals do the following.
  1. Encourage honesty: “I believe in straight talking, however it’s important to understand when you can apply that approach and when you can’t. Everyone has their 'hot buttons'… being open and honest will encourage others to get to the bottom of the issue quickly.”
  2. Focus on facts: “I am very focussed on facts and I always try and steer discussions away from emotions, which generally gets you to the ‘real story’ behind a conflict or an issue.”
  3. Be solutions-oriented: “I am a great believer in not always bringing issues to the table, but bringing solutions. Everyone should be accountable; all care and no accountability is a bad approach.”
Susan Davies, Director Human Resources, Administration & Customer Service, TNT, will talk about ‘Leadership in the C-suite: Survival Guide’ at our 2014 HR Summit, held in Sydney on April 1-2. For more information, click here.


  • by Greg Evans 18/03/2014 2:12:31 PM

    "if you want a seat at the boardroom table" Respectfully, I think a different table was meant. There's usually only one executive officer at Board level - the CEO.

    Otherwise, Susan makes a fair point about needing a deep understanding of the business. It seems a no-brainer for HR people to comprehend how their firm makes money (or delivers other forms of value), but I continue to encounter people in HR roles who have little or no idea of how their organisation really works. "Oh, that's technical stuff - we don't get involved" is not uncommonly heard.

  • by Suresh Muke 22/03/2014 2:28:30 PM

    The HR leaders should become business partner and involved in all the business functions...from design to marketing, the role should not limit to advice but in implementation

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