7 tips that will make you an HR leader

HR leader
Ari Kopoulos


written on April 19, 2017

While many CEOs think of their business as ‘People First’, a lot of HR professionals are still looking for their place at the executives’ table.

Talking ‘human capital’ and ‘performance’ has become fashionable, the hope is it will create the perfect formula that will make your organisation stand out. However, only a few business leaders factor HR into their decision-making process. Their excuse for not doing so? HR is too costly, resistant to change and is not able to provide the hard numbers that would build the case for its usefulness.

Here are the seven main levers HR can use to change their organisation for the better:

1. Know what’s next

Staying ahead of trends and being able to anticipate answers should be part of your skill set as an HR leader. Too many HR professionals are scared of the future. They need to overcome this, and equip themselves with monitoring and audit systems to help them embark on the boat of innovation right on time.

2. Stick to what you believe in

Without the traits of a true leader, HR professionals will remain simple administrators. Therefore, the development of the HR function relies on the awareness of its own strengths. HR has a major social impact on business. The function is responsible for developing dialogue within the company, and its agents need to have a good sense of empathy, proficient emotional management skills and closeness to their employees.

3. Update your pitch

Today, marketing is highly focused on customers’ needs and wants. And those in marketing understand that to be successful they need to update their language to use words that resonate with their intended audience. The technique of promoting an organisational brand is referred to as HR Marketing or employment branding. Like marketers, HR professionals need to have a customer-driven mindset – they need to be employee-driven.

(To learn how to improve your employment branding, read our guide.)

4. Network, network, network

To be part of the leadership team, you need to belong to the decision-makers group itself. Without any personal connection or link with the influential personalities of your organisation, you won’t be consulted on important decisions.

Understanding the business context, the motivations and political games of an organisation should all be part of your skill set.

5. Turn yourself into a mentor

Adopting the attitude of a coach is what any HR professional wanting to be an HR leader should aim for. The ability to listen, advise, empathise and the ability to understand the socio-psychological challenges of today should be what an HR pro brings to their leadership team. To reach a top position on the corporate ladder, an HR leader must be a mentor, an attentive ear, a well-rounded advisor and a mastermind on the short and long run.

6. Build a strong workplace culture

It can never be said enough. Culture is the foundation of your organisation. Like the engine of your car, it makes your people move forward. By building a strong corporate culture, HR can adopt an influential position within any business. A strong corporate culture is a one of engagement, which in turn strengthens loyalty and improves customer experience. The architect of an influential business culture will have defined organisational goals and have drawn a clear blueprint of how to get there.

7. Wear your black hat

No witchery, just a simple reference to De Bono’s ‘Six thinking hats’ system. An HR leader should act with caution and make use of their critical judgement to interpret information in an unbiased way. What is the data that I’m looking at? Where does it come from? Data is always true. It’s the way we interpret it that can be biased or taken out of context.

Become a storyteller and get insight from your data. Big data is everywhere and it’s your job to extract the relevant intelligence that will provide HR the opportunity to renew and influence their leadership.


Ari Kopoulos is the CEO at EmployeeConnect HRIS.

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