Time for HR Leaders to…Be Brave

Are you Brave Enough ?

Bravery is a key word for me.

Perhaps it is the entrepreneur in me who not only is “risk tolerant” but feels that life is not meant to be lived in a pallet of muted pastels but in vibrant technicolour. Whatever the reason, I choose to work with leaders, businesses, organisations that are brave, that choose to stretch out of their comfort zone, are comfortable being uncomfortable.

Now, in my work I come across lots of senior HR leaders in large corporations and organisations, yet very rarely do I come across any that are truly brave, that look to stretch, seek the transformative change, go against the grain.

When I do find such leaders, I look to build relationships that last with them, to learn from them and to support them as they look to drive change for their employer, their people, their customers and other stakeholders.

Again and again, I have been to HR conferences where the talk is of the common complaint that, though people are the greatest asset, many HR leaders are not considered strategic, nor offered a true “seat at the table” in leadership teams, “C” Suites etc.

Unpopular as it may be to some, my belief is that a core reason is that so few will actually champion (and put their own careers on the line, if that is what it takes!) the brave initiatives and actions that need to be taken.

If you are an HR leader and reading this, I hope I am nudging you to consider that, however brave you are being, perhaps you could be a little (or a lot?) braver.

Why am I writing this today? Well, recently I read a short report from a top business school Darden at UVA, called “RETHINKING TALENT MANAGEMENT: A BRAVE NEW WORLD“, pdf download here. The conclusion of the report reads (bold highlights added are mine) :

Leaders in talent management have a choice: they can hold on to the past, or they can embrace the new. How does one know when to change and when to stay the course?
Here’s one thing we know will be universally true: playing it safe isn’t an option anymore. Organizations are changing too rapidly. In order to keep pace, leaders will need to find the courage to let go of some old approaches and pioneer new ones. Taking an agile approach to innovating and customizing talent programs with the focus on customer needs (employees and leaders) – and not HR needs – is a solid method to enter this brave new world.

This is an excellent report drawn from fifty interviews with key HR leaders, highlighting “big trends” and “big questions”, and looking at what needs to happen to adapt to change.

However, and it is a big “but”, of those interviewed, only between about 10% and 25% of those interviewed are actively taking each of the number of steps enumerated in the report as being needed to address these big trends and big questions.

Those big trends and biq questions are shown below. For more, review the report.

Big Trends

My question today for HR leaders (and resonant for all leaders who see these “big trends” and feel they will inpact their organistion)  is simply this.

Are you brave enough ?