Love Lost Between Business Leaders and HR Leaders

The traditional role of HR within an organisation is often defined as “managing the employees within a company, who collectively contribute to the achievement of the company’s strategic objectives”. It is the individual people who make up an organisation and contribute to its success.  HR assists the organisation by attracting new employees, developing the skills required to meet the organisation’s goals, and ultimately creating a loyal and motivated workforce. 

It is therefore a concern to learn that a recent study from the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), revealed that “44% of business leaders think that HR fail ‘to address the operational issues facing the organisation and 52% think that HR prioritise what matters to HR over wider organisation issues.   Just 27% of business leaders believe the HR function helps their organisation to become more flexible and agile, while a large proportion of business leaders have no opinion about HR’s contribution to the business”.

This clearly shows that HR departments need to promote their value to business leaders with facts and figures to re-ignite business leaders’ recognition of their contribution! In today’s less than tolerant business world, it is not enough for an HR department to assume that they are OK because they ‘hire and fire’ the employees that make up the business.

Five ways to become the leader your team needs

In today’s competitive business environment, a great team is essential in ensuring an organisation’s success in achieving its business goals.  A great team leader can be the difference between having a motivated team that works together well or a fragmented team of individuals all pulling in different directions. As Mark Sanborn, a leadership development coach, points out, there are not many natural born leaders, but many team leaders train themselves by learning from others and through personal experience, in order to improve their team leadership skills.

Richard Stengel’s book Mandela’s Way – Lessons of Life illustrates Mandela’s leadership style:  “Leadership at its most fundamental is about moving people in a certain direction – usually through changing the direction of their thinking and their actions.  This is not necessarily done by charging out front and saying “Follow me”, but by empowering or pushing others to move forward ahead of you.  It is through empowering others that we impart our own leadership and ideas.”

So how do you become a better leader?  In addition to reading Mandela’s Way (a great read – highly recommended), here are a few more things to consider to help you on your way:

Be the perfect barometer to your team

As a team leader, it is up to you to ensure that your organisational values are reflected in your actions.  The way you treat people is a barometer to your team, so it is unacceptable to expect your team to treat your clients with respect and to adhere to the highest service standards if you don’t treat your staff in the same way.  Simply lead by example!

A good leader truly leads by example: a case study

Paul B. Brown recently blogged about how the best leaders model the behaviour they want. The article, posted recently on, pointed out that employees spend a great deal of time observing the behaviour of their bosses. Moreover, what a boss does is just as important as what he says, if not more so. Brown provides an example of a workforce in a car dealership he once visited. The dealership  had been run by the same family for generations and  significantly dominated the car market in the region. The owner himself was described as a quietly charming man who was seldom known to raise his voice. 

Car dealerships are by nature busy places, and fender benders are an occupational hazard as cars are moved around the show room floor and readied for delivery. The rule at this particular dealership was that customers must be made aware of any damage that had occurred. On one occasion, a high end luxury vehicle was being prepared for collection when it was bumped by the salesperson driving it, and the corner back bumper was damaged. The car was quickly repaired and once again in perfect condition by the time the new owner arrived to collect. And since the damage was not visible to the naked eye, the new owner was not informed about what had happened.

Great leaders are also great listeners

We’re constantly reminded of the importance of great communication skills when it comes to effective leadership. Most of the time we associate effective communication with the ability to convey a message accurately, but what about the equally important aspect of communication which relates to receiving messages well? 

Below is an article entitled, The most overlooked leadership skill, in which Strategic Advisor Peter Bregman poses the question whether receptive communication skills are in fact the most overlooked leadership skill in today’s business environment.  When you consider that everyone, no matter whether they are the CEO or a junior employee, needs constant evaluation and constructive performance analysis in order to grow, it would be difficult not to agree with him. Often it’s our greatest weaknesses which leave us blind-sided, we need others to come alongside us and point them out for us, because it’s only when we are able to identify and recognise these weaknesses that we can become stronger and truly excel.     

For those in a leadership capacity, their ability to identify and address weaknesses, both in themselves and the business at large, will be reflected in the success or failure of the entire company. Hence, leaders who know how to receive messages properly – truly listening to what they are hearing and critically assessing what is being said without becoming defensive – are leaders who truly know how to use effective communication skills in order to grow their business.

Employees’ online behaviour affects business reputation

When it comes to the potentially damaging effects of social media on a business’s reputation, most of us will immediately think of the risks posed by negative comments from individuals outside of the organisation.  But what about the people in your business?  How are they representing your company through social media? Irresponsible employees are in a position to do more damage than anybody else.