By now, you know that good leadership is a good thing. And redundancy is redundant. Being a strong leader for your HR department is pretty obviously important. In HR, you make a lot of decisions that impact the future of your organization. Let’s talk about the reasons leadership skills can make or break an HR department, according to some HR professionals.
As a leader in HR, you have significant effect on business decisions because of your responsibility with the internal relationships. That’s one good reason to have strong leadership in HR, according to Matthew Burr, a professional HR consultant. These decisions include hiring, firing, sexual harassment claims, issues of compliance and law, what benefits employees should receive…. all people and emotional related tasks. Given all of this, leadership in HR is needed so your decisions are less frequently disregarded.
Matthew Burr, Burr Consulting
“It only makes sense … [that] the head of HR has strong leadership skills.”
Sometimes you have to make unpopular decisions, according to Stacy Caprio, a business coach. That’s when your leadership is really tested. We’re talking layoffs or downsizing, rescinding benefits, changing policies, or making rules against eating at your desk because Joe’s a slob. That kind of thing. You don’t want to be painted as the bad guy. You want your employees to like you. Nevertheless, sometimes, things just need to get done, and you can’t be “wishy-washy” about it, as Caprio puts it. You’ve got to make decisions and stand by them.
Stacy Caprio, Stacy Caprio INC
“HR needs to stand strong in its decisions so the company can get behind them.”
Fortunately, not all decisions are that way. You are able to focus on what’s most important such as the company’s strategic mission and delivering it can sometimes include fun initiatives as well!
Amie Devero, a leadership coach and consultant, thinks of HR as a strategic engine. If that’s true, leadership in HR is vital to fulfilling a company’s strategic goals. Today’s leader in HR has a complex role to fill, according to Devero.
“A modern HR leader must fulfill the role of both strategic thought partner on the C-Suite team, thinking about how to grow the company in head count, while also ensuring that the entirety of the team understand[s] their role in a matrixed strategy; and how they can accelerate the company’s growth and success,” she said.
And that’s not easy. You’ve got to have strong character and sound mind.
Amie Devero, Amie Devero Coaching and Consulting
“That takes both strength of character and sophisticated thinking about the ways that people and value overlap and feed each other.”
If you play chess, you know that every piece has a role to play. The queen may have the highest value, the best maneuverability, and the greatest potential for checkmate, but, without the support of pawns and other minor pieces, she’s just a pile of points for your opponent. A good HR leader understands that everyone in the company fits holistically into company strategy and maneuvers people where they need to be.
Jesse Harrison, HR Director at HopeTree, said that part of HR’s role is one of protection. By not appreciating the extent of responsibility in this capacity, it can result in expensive lawsuits.
Jesse Harrison, HopeTree Lawsuit Loans
“The truth is, the number one role of HR is to protect the company. In order to do that, HR must be able to make decisions without emotional interference.”
It may not sound glamorous, but part of your job is to get between ugly law suits and your company. To do that, you have to be a good leader, with both maintaining good morale, while simultaneously maintaining a tight ship.
Tephra Miriam, founder and chief creative consultant of her own company, wrote that HR leaders play a role in creating company culture and that a lack of leaders in this space has led to some major issues.
Tephra Miriam, Tephra Miriam Communications, Productions & Publishing
“I feel like a lack of leadership in the HR space is what has fueled #MeToo scenarios and over hostile work environments.”
Whether it was a lack of leadership or something else that fueled #metoo scenarios, it’s clear that, in order to create a safe company culture where people can thrive, leaders are necessary.
Leadership is an important component of any HR department. From preventing sexual harassment lawsuits to refining the company’s strategic mission, you’ve got to put on your leadership hat and carry a big stick. Though we don’t recommend hitting anyone with said stick, at least not physically. Stay tuned for our next part in this series to get tips for leadership in HR.