Tag Archives: HR Leadership

Next Generation HR Leadership

HR Leadership Challenge; Fotolia © Andres Rodriguez
HR Leadership Challenge
Fotolia © Andres Rodriguez

Over the past year, there have been several CEO leadership changes in the high-tech industry.  To name two big titans, Intel and Microsoft CEOs have announced their respective early retirements.  These market giants  were slow in pentrating into the mobile market, where mobile devices have taken the lead from the PC industry.  Shareholders and corporate board have put pressure on them to come up with new strategies to regain market share.

CEOs play a critical role in transforming companies and industries.  Chief Human Resources Officers play an equal role in supporting CEOs with corporate initiatives.


1.  What defines the next generation leader?  What are some key qualities?

  • The business landscape is changing and fast.  As fast as the world is changing next generation leaders need to change faster to stay ahead.  Business leaders must be able to cope with multi-lateral macro-economies, geo-political, social-environmental and government and governance on a global scale.
  • In addition to running the company’s core business, leaders must build alliances with upstream/downstream suppliers; grow eco-system partners; and manage governmental stakeholders.
    • For example, everything in China is political. Business leaders need to align business strategy to the government’s new slogan “China Dream,” to enable economic growth for the nation.  Everything is also personal in China.  Attracting, hiring and retaining talent is a contact sport.  Leaders need to get involved in their employees to provide professional and personal support.
  • Leadership need to be flexible.  The war for talent is as intensive as ever and the landscape for talent is changing, especially for those born in the post-1980s (Gen Y).  They demand both flexibility and purpose at work.  The best leaders need to be inspirational in order to retain the new generation moving up the management ranks.


2.  In terms of HR leadership specifically, what does the next-generation leader embody?

  • The HR profession has come a long way moving from administrators to business partners, then to strategic partners.  The next generation requires HR to be business leaders delivering to the company’s bottom line.
  • Classroom training is often the solution for a development gap in an organization.  However, HR needs to take on a more active position in people performance.  The next generation of HR will be held to a higher accountability where the training and other people development programs result in tangible external business impact.  In addition to training company employees next generation HR will need to take into consideration vendors, service providers and customers into the training needs equation.
  • Another area is big data.  Today HR professional are continuing to improve internal process efficiencies through canter of excellence and HR information systems.  The day has emerged where HR leading from the front has the ability to extract data for even greater strategic insight.  Companies are already tapping into data for product research and development.  HR will need to focus on the people aspect for integrated talent solution.


3.  How do you identify next-generation leaders in your organisation? How early on do you do this? And what steps do you take to engage them?

  • Typically HR will start by using a succession planning and HiPo (high potential) employee assessment process.  They will also develop a talent pipeline for critical skills as part of their workforce planning process.  However, while these steps are needed it does not go deep enough.  While HR is looking at the top layer it doesn’t solve the leadership needs for the rest of the organization.
  • As discussed earlier, the next generation leaders have the capacity to make market shifts by cultivating a sphere of influence of suppliers, tangential business partners and expanding customer base.
  • For HR, only by developing an integrated organization capability solution, from top to bottom and across, will people professional enable next generation capabilities in their organization.
  • Next generational leadership isn’t about an inspirational individual but it takes a team of leaders to bring about greater impact of business growth in a growing complex global environment.


4.     What sort of leadership development initiatives will help them cope with new business realities? What do they need to learn?

  • Businesses have already figured this out.  In order to sustain business growth, leaders seek out investment capital for new innovations.  They form strategic alliances to expand into new markets.  They go through mergers and acquisitions to attain new intellectual property and related assets.  They might spin-off a division in order to let fledging organization survive.
  • True for most organizations, HR does not have a huge budget for leadership development program.  HR leadership can take a page from business strategies and how it developments human capital.  Earlier, I suggested that HR need to take into consideration external training gaps (not just internal employees).  This suggests that HR need to build internal and externally linking programs.
  • Taking a page from business, HR talent development teams can build alliances within the same industry for core or fundamental skills at a lower cost (cost is shared with external partner HR).  Participants now have an opportunity to learn from industry peers (gaining greater business insight).  From a developmental approach, future leaders gain tremendous experience by taking training on the road with alliance partners.  Partners begin to view them as industry leaders, forging relationships that will be beneficial to both organizations.
  • HR may be concerned with divulging proprietary internal training and development programs.  Some might be worried about their key talent being hired away by competitors.  Businesses leaders have a history of partnering with “frenemies.”  HR should be doing the same.

Finally, being a true HR business partner being involved in having a “seat at the table” means the ability to staying ahead of the curve with critical business decisions.  Don’t let yourself become expired but, stay relevant.


This blog post was inspired by a set of interview questions from the HRM Magazine for an upcoming feature article on Next Generation Leadership.


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