The Shared Accountability for Leadership - The Role of HR Part 3 of 3

Over the last two blogs I’ve explored the accountability for leadership at the Board and Executive level.  In this third blog I share my ideas on HR’s accountability.

Knightsbridge recently completed a study in partnership with the Human Resources Professionals Association, where we interviewed a number of CEOs to uncover their perspectives of HR. The CEOs we interviewed spoke passionately about the need for HR to play a leadership role in identifying and developing talent. In other words, HR has a core accountability to demonstrate leadership in leadership. CEOs are looking to HR to help the organization identify the behaviours and skills that will drive the organization’s productivity and success. They want customized approaches to individual leader development to accelerate personal effectiveness.

These CEO expectations align with what I believe is the fundamental accountability of HR to drive leadership in an organization.  Here’s my list of HR’s accountability for leadership:

  1. HR should be the center of expertise on leadership and know how it should be built and how it should be measured. This means HR needs to provide insight to the CEO and the Board on how to build strong leadership that is required for successful strategy execution. It also means implementing strong practices in succession management, leadership development, finding and retaining talent, and developing alliances with key external service providers.
  2. HR needs to help executives understand the risks associated with potential leadership gaps in their organizations.  As one seasoned HR executive shared with me, “many executives don’t know how to assess leadership gaps that could put strategy execution at risk. HR can play a vital role in helping executive teams in this area”.
  3. HR needs to effectively design a robust strategy to build leadership. This means creating a strategy that focuses on enhancing leadership capability from the front-line managerial roles to executive positions. It also means creating an integrated approach to development that blends formal and informal development opportunities.
  4. Create a strong leadership culture within the organization. This is critical as it ensures that line managers and leaders are clear on the organization’s leadership expectations and in turn take personal accountability for their development.
  5. Be the model of strong leadership within the organization. This means that the head of HR and the entire HR team act as strong business leaders. The best HR teams that I’ve seen understand that their actions, how they interact with the organization, the attitude and tone they bring is critical to their success. HR cannot just preach the need for strong leadership; they must show their accountability by demonstrating it. As I said earlier, HR needs to demonstrate leadership in leadership.

So HR, what are your thoughts?