How to create leaders who make you (HR) look good

by Janie Smith13 May 2014
As all practitioners know, people-focused leadership is often the key to the successful implementation of HR strategies. Julie Harrison, partner, human capital, at Deloitte, believes HR professionals know what it takes to be a great leader and are in a unique position to develop leadership.

“From the perspective of HR in the business, HR needs to role-model what good and effective leadership looks like, particularly to other leaders and executives in the business,” she told HC Online.

“The senior people in HR work regularly at the executive level and with the board these days as well and being able to role-model that behaviour at that executive level is really important.”

With many managers and executives having to deal with volatile markets, getting the right balance of business acumen and strong people-leadership is a challenge, said Harrison.

The relationship between HR and business is becoming more important and requires HR professionals to have a high level of understanding of the business they’re in.

“If you look at the role of HR in building future leaders, that’s one area that is really important, that HR gets out into the business and is involved in and understands the business that it’s in. It’s not good enough just to be a really strong HR professional, it’s about the HR professionals truly understanding the organisation they’re in.”

Having that business knowledge will give HR more credibility within the business and will ensure it is listened to by management, said Harrison.

“When they [HR professionals] are developing and leading the leadership development programs, the managers and leaders who are on those programs will take a lot more notice of what they have to say.”

One of the strategies that HR can employ when delivering leadership programs is to make sure that the senior executives are co-facilitating the programs with HR.

“Rather than it being seen as an HR function to develop leaders, it’s seen as a partnership between the executives and HR to develop the leaders within the business.

“One of the challenges HR has at the moment is transitioning from traditional leadership programs through to programs that help move people from managers to leaders through things like helping leaders to build resilience, business acumen and a real flexibility and agility to be able to adapt to the volatile markets,” said Harrison.

“Leadership has become much more of a global issue these days as opposed to a state or a national issue, so when HR people look at leadership programs, they need to look globally at what’s happening in the global market and translate that for their managers and leaders.”

HR can also help businesses understand the importance of the diversity of thought and finding the right mix of people working together to provide effective organisational leadership, Harrison said.

“HR plays a really critical role in helping the executives identify where the high-potential people are and how to bring those people through the organisation really effectively.

“There hasn’t really been a significant change in the way leadership development is done for the last 20 years or so, and yet the expectations of the millennials coming through now are quite different. One of those is around technology. HR can certainly help leaders become much more au fait with things like social media and some of the new technology coming through.”
  • Julie will give a presentation on Impact Leadership: Creating Leaders who Make you Look Good, at the Perth HR Summit, 21-22 May. Click here for more details.  


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