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Ask the experts: How to be a true HR leader

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in Best-Practices Leadership,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

You have heard all the general advice and theories about getting “a seat at the table.” But what does it take to jump the fence from your administrative role and be seen as a true leader in the company?

The HR Specialist posed the following question to three of the leading HR thought leaders in America today: “What are the actions that a true HR leader takes to demonstrate leadership within an organization?”

Their answers pointed to the following six actions:

1. Leaders replace soft and fuzzy HR-speak with business-speak. They are able to say to top executives, “I am a revenue generator. I bring in money as a result of the quality of people I hire,” says top HR consultant John Sullivan, head of Dr. John Sullivan & Associates in Pacifica, Calif.

2. They don’t wait for marching orders from executives. True HR leaders are “credible activists,” says Dave Ulrich, co-founder of the RBL Group, a Utah-based HR consulting firm, and author of The Leadership Code.

Real HR leaders build relationships of trust. They have a point of view about business success and deliver projects “on time, every time,” adds Ulrich.

3. They always seek to show execs the specific financial relationship between HR and the bottom line. “They ‘dollarize’ their thinking and speech,” says Sullivan. “They don’t say to management, ‘The turnover rate is 20%.’ They say something like, ‘Turnover costs were $20 million last year and our profit was $10 million.’”

4. They offer to deliver measurable results and hold themselves accountable. “They put their butts on the line,” says Kim Ruyle, VP of product development at Korn Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting. “If your organization is expanding into a new region, you don’t simply follow orders to hire more people. Instead you say, ‘This is what it takes to get the right people and this is where we will fail if we don’t.’”

5. They set high standards. “They raise the bar in the HR organization,” says Ruyle. “They don’t tolerate wimps, underperformers or incompetence. They make HR a training ground and model for the rest of the business, and someplace where any emerging leader would be glad to work for the experience.”

6. They think like outside training consultants. “They know which training tools work, how well they work and the impact they will have on productivity,” says Sullivan.

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