Leadership-Driven HR is the culmination of 18 years of writing and 25 years of practice. The journey began with the publication of my first two books: Beyond the Walls of Conflict (1996) and High Performance HR (2000). These books explored the strategic work of Human Resources (HR) and Labor Relations and how HR can contribute to transforming a business. High Performance HR became a bestseller and was widely used by HR professionals to guide their focus and by universities as part of their business and HR curriculum.
Subsequently, I became immersed with the evolving challenge of the leadership gap and researched how to overcome that gap. It was evident that the leadership gap was a global problem and that it had important implications for human resources professionals. My third, fourth, and fifth co-authored books all explored various aspects of the leadership gap. The third book, The Leadership Gap (2005), explored the need for leaders to be holistic and identified what organizations need to do to build leadership capacity. The fourth book, Leadership Solutions (2007), explored how to measure leadership capacity to pinpoint the areas where organizations should target their development of this capacity. The fifth book, Innovative Intelligence (2011), focused on the challenge of the innovation gap, which can be significantly reduced by developing leaders of innovation who draw out the innovative capacity of their employees and teams so that they can gain insight and discover inventive solutions to complex issues.
Leadership-Driven HR completes the circle of my journey. It reflects my return to writing directly to HR professionals about how the HR function still needs to transform with a primary focus on being leadership-driven. This book is built on my previous writings and introduces many new, important, and practical frameworks and tools that HR can use to transform in order to deliver value for the business.
Over the past decade, the human resources function has experienced a tremendous state of flux as exemplified by the plethora of names by which the HR function is now called. Although most human resources departments are still called Human Resources (HR), new names are appearing, including Talent Management, Talent and Organizational Development, People and Organizations, and People and Organizational Capabilities. Also, the senior leaders of HR are using a wider range of titles in addition to VP of HR, including chief human resources officer, chief people officer, chief talent officer, VP talent and organizational effectiveness, and VP talent and communications. Some executives explicitly reject the label “HR,” suggesting that people are not resources that can be “mined” but rather that people are individuals who need to be engaged and developed. The wide variety of names for the function and titles for its senior leaders signal that HR is still in a process of discovering what it really stands for.
Rather than entering into the debate and choosing a new name for HR, Leadership-Driven HR uses the traditional and still widely used name “HR” but emphasizes its new focus on being leadership-driven. This book explores the way HR drives the business to lead, examines how HR delivers value through its leaders, and describes how HR itself needs to be driven to lead for business success. It also emphasizes that HR needs to have a clear line of sight to the external customer for all of its work, and that it needs to be rigorous in prioritizing its work so that it can ensure it delivers its priorities. Many executives will welcome HR's new focus on being leadership-driven in a way that eventually benefits the external customer. Based on extensive practice and research, Leadership-Driven HR clearly defines how HR needs to transform to deliver value for the business and describes the strategies and practical tools necessary to transform HR's priorities and accountabilities.
A Description of This Book
This section presents a description of each chapter of Leadership-Driven HR. Most readers will want to read the book in its entirety for a full understanding of how HR needs to transform to deliver value for the business. However, some readers may want to dip into the book and explore specific topics that meet a particular need. The following descriptions should guide the reader to determine what will address their needs most effectively.
Part One: Transforming HR
Chapter One: Being Leadership-Driven
The HR role in businesses has changed dramatically and will continue to change over the next decade. Currently, the ratio of HR professionals to employees has shifted from 1:100 to, in some cases, 1:500. The only way for HR to deliver value for the business with these ratios is to become leadership-driven. This chapter focuses on three ways HR must transform to become leadership-driven: (1) HR as a driver for business leadership—which includes how HR takes an “outside-in” approach to the business to deliver strategic value; (2) HR as a driver of leaders—which focuses on ensuring that all leaders become people leaders and that all employees become more self-reliant; and (3) HR being driven to lead—which describes how HR must function as a center of excellence in people capabilities and organizational capabilities as it delivers value for the business.
Chapter Two: Line of Sight to the External Customer
Many HR organizations focus on internal customers as their priority work. However, when HR is leadership-driven, they must have a line of sight to the leaders' customer, which is the external customer. This chapter describes how HR can achieve the necessary insight and knowledge of external customers' needs and perceptions as they work internally with business leaders.
Chapter Three: “Lighten Up” To Deliver Priorities
The first two chapters described the additional strategic work that HR will need to accomplish as it strives to become a leadership-driven HR function with a clear line of sight to the external customer. However, if work is added, HR will have the equal challenge to balance its priorities and “lighten up” work of a lower priority. Many HR organizations have struggled to identify priority work and to reduce their workload. HR needs to use its leadership focus and clear line of sight to the external customer as filters to determine its top-priority work so that time and effort will not be spent on work of little value. In addition, HR has to become highly effective at helping business leaders become the “first line of defense” to respond to employee issues. If HR does not lighten up its work, the HR function will never have the time to deliver the value that the business requires.
Part Two: The Work of HR
Chapter Four: The HR Triangle Chart
This chapter introduces the HR triangle chart, which provides an overview of the three capabilities of leadership-driven HR. These are:
- People capabilities: The HR outcomes that reflect the flow of people through the employment life cycle—from finding talent to developing talent to retaining talent.
- Organizational capabilities: The HR outcomes that reflect the flow of work—from work entering the business to being processed by the business to delivering value for the external customer.
- HR value proposition: The top-priority people capability or organizational capability that mitigates a critical business risk. When HR delivers its value proposition, the business will have a much greater probability that it will realize its strategic direction.
Chapter Five: People Capabilities
HR needs to guide leaders to be people leaders through the entire employment life cycle, from finding talent to developing talent, to retaining talent. This chapter describes how HR guides leaders as they fulfill their part in delivering people capabilities and how HR must be a center of excellence that delivers key aspects of people capabilities.
Chapter Six: Organizational Capabilities
A significant evolution of HR over the past decade has been the expectation that HR demonstrates excellence in organizational capabilities. HR has always been expected to excel at people capabilities; however, the expectation for HR to excel at organizational capabilities is very recent. This chapter describes how HR must be a center of excellence that delivers aspects of five essential organizational capabilities and how HR must guide leaders as they fulfill their part in delivering these organizational capabilities.
Part Three: The HR Value Proposition
Chapter Seven: HR Value Proposition: An Overview
This chapter provides an overview of the next three chapters, which focus on three people and organizational capabilities that are frequently elevated to the level of the HR value proposition. The HR value proposition is the promise to deliver a top-priority HR solution targeted to mitigate a critical business risk. In all cases, the HR value proposition is one of, or a combination of the people capabilities and/or the organizational capabilities. The specific people or organizational capability that mitigates a critical business risk is elevated to the level of an HR value proposition.
Chapter Eight: Build Leadership Capacity
Many businesses develop strategies with the assumption that they have the current and future leadership capacity to deliver that strategy. The HR value proposition of “build leadership capacity” is...