Of course, good HR leaders perform well on all of HR’s traditional capacities, but what makes a HR leader truly great is their performance on key competencies (which other HR managers gloriously overlook). If HR leaders develop their skillsets around key competencies, then it is possible to witness the HR taking the lead at the boardroom. So what are the key competencies that we are talking about? According to a research survey carried out by Zenger Folkman consultancy, when leaders in the HR function are compared with those leaders in other functions, the typical HR leader falls short of the average percentile. By contrasting the results of HR leaders with that of other leaders, the research team identified a few key skills that pushed some HR leaders to shine more than others. The following are the key competencies or skills that helped good HR leaders to become great in their roles:

1)    Establish stretch goals: Whenever a program or process needs to be rolled out, the executive teams face the first obstacle in HR, who certainly points to the resource crunch and lack of experience, skills, etc., to shoot down a proposal. This has made the HR the most hated team in an organization after perhaps the IT team. While the HR may be right at cautioning and advising against certain proposals, it has become an established practice for the HR to sidle a proposal without considering what could be done to speed up the process and move quickly. Great HR leaders find ways to accommodate new proposals or changes to existing ones because they know the value of stretching beyond the call of duty to achieve organizational goals.

2)    Foster problem-solving skills: It is a given that good HR leaders are truly concerned about developing others, an aspect that sets them apart from leaders in other functions. HR leaders provide coaching, act as a mentor, and give feedback in a helpful way. In fact, great HR leaders have the uncanny ability to anticipate and respond quickly to problems, which effectually transforms them into great role models. Moreover, by ensuring that others in the organization do the right thing and follow established procedures, the HR works to honour commitments and promises.

3)    Have a strategic perspective: To engage with other executives, the HR leader must have a clear strategy and focus. Specialization on the core HR functions is not sufficient; instead, the leader should focus on the big picture and the undercurrents driving the organization. They are invariably the champions of change, driving the strategic growth of the company from inside out.

4)    Focus on external factors: It is common for HR leaders to stay focused on internal problems. Very little effort is expedited to ensure that they follow the external environment as closely. This has often nudged people to consider that HR leaders are not in touch with the issues facing the organization and that they do not have the ability to represent the organization to key groups. Getting results is one thing and having a concern for the needs of others is another. An adroit HR leader knows where to strike a fine balance by considering the various external factors at play.