Is your organization hunting for an HR professional who is successful, pedigreed, and influential from an Ivy League institution? It is common to assume that an HR leader as one who is outgoing, success-driven and well-ensconced at the top. However, this bias in staffing leadership roles is disappearing fast over the past couple of years or so. Organizations are no longer looking for a Fulbright scholar, rather they are interested in hiring someone who is just half as bright and can lead from where they are: someone who would do the thinking as they go about their work; someone like Capt. Jack Sparrow!

Much of HR’s routine tasks, responsibilities, and roles have given way to AI-powered HR tech. This, coupled with the changing work practices and dynamism, has ensured a constantly evolving model of HR leadership, one that throws open the opportunity to lead to anyone willing to step up.

Now, with the HR earning a place in the boardroom, let us look at those ingenuous qualities that are redefining the role of an HR leader:

Aptitude to focus on the customer and brand: The new breed of HR is more sympathetic to the needs and concerns of customers and the values espoused by the brand. This has necessitated the need for the HR to be open to the external environment and be in touch with the realities on ground. Openness to market factors influencing the brand, products and services has equipped HR leaders with the canny ability to estimate the organizational strategic direction and to represent the organization to key groups.

Ability to influence key stakeholders: Today’s HR is able to synchronize their efforts and the strengths of other corporate leaders to propel the company forward. By understanding the issues facing each stakeholder groups and forging a common ground, an HR leader plays the role of an enabler and catalyst for change. In the boardroom, the HR dons many hats and everyone looks to the HR leader to speak their language with authority and authenticity.

Capability to provide strategic perspectives: Unravelling the competitions’ strategic push with a clear perspective on their thinking, planning and leadership is an uncanny ability. It requires one to have a clear perspective, painting the big picture with all the details and connecting the dots. The business or marketing leaders may talk on tangibles—about the promotions, budgets, performance indicators, etc. However, what swings the market here are the intangibles—the leadership experience of people behind a brand, their successes, their failures, their style of functioning, their thinking, etc. HR leaders with a grasp of these intangibles can add value to any discussion.

Ability to anticipate and respond quickly to problems: One of the reasons why business leaders undermine the HR function as a noncore cost centre is because of a well-rooted stereotype of the department. Any ambitious plan for growth meets a roadblock due to the HR’s inability to provide solutions or turnarounds to problems. Suave HR leaders have come on top of this challenge. HR leaders who have survived the flux and reached the top rely on their ability to anticipate and respond quickly to problems.

Capacity to discover patterns and opportunities: By proactively developing ideas and providing solutions, the HR leader shows the way out—rather than reacts—to any perceived situations. The HR leader understands the need to detect breaks in continuity, network with others to learn new ideas, identify trouble spots, and improve the performance of a specific team or key individual