I was blessed to be entrusted with a senior HR position – without having any HR background. What looked initially as a handicap, unfolded as a blessing in disguise. By not having the subject matter expertise, I was never even tempted to micromanage – simply because I couldn’t. Instead, I could focus on what leadership is all about: Showing the right direction as well as inspiring and enabling others to follow. It became my drive to simplify leadership. According to Seth Godin “The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.” By the way, did you know that the original meaning of the word ‘leader’ relates to terms like ‘guide’ or ‘journey? In other words, leadership is about traveling together in a common direction on an exciting journey.
In line with this, my very own Leadership Model is along the 3 C’s of Leadership: Compass, Coach and Character. Like a Compass, great leaders show the right direction based on visionary insights without micromanaging the journey – like a navigation system would do. In other words, leaders ensure everyone is headed towards the same direction, not so much telling how to get there but rather asking how they can help.
Like a Coach, great leaders engage people to achieve success together, developing individual strengths and ensuring that nobody is left behind along the journey.
Combined with a humble Character, based on effective principles such as integrity, loyalty and altruism, you get the most likely simplest description of leadership. So here is my wish for all aspiring leaders: “Identify yourself with the person whom people want to follow rather than with the position which people have to follow.”
While having lack of subject matter expertise when joining HR, I had the benefit of working in several different functions, such as finance and operations, before joining HR. As HR professionals, we must understand the business. But who is the “business”? People run the business; people ARE the business. While every employee should understand the business, meaning a company’s strategy, portfolio, products & services as well as the key customers, HR must understand the people behind the business. We must be able to feel the daily stress of salespeople facing demanding customers, understand the way R&D engineers are thinking and how people in production lines are operating. Once you understand the people behind the business, you understand the business. HR should be in the driver seat to co-create a people-centric culture – and a company culture based on trust is one of your best company brandings. Therefore, I like to dub “HR Professional” as “Ambassador for Humanity & Respect” by doing this:
- Put people always before processes; while HR must follow certain processes, those processes should always work for the people – not the other way around; if in doubt, put people first.
- Ensure that talent attraction starts by looking inhouse first; sometimes the best candidates are within the company. Every position filled from outside is a lost opportunity to promote someone from inside.
- Have an HR mission and slogan, clearly and shortly defining what you stand for and where you are heading to as HR organization. Please feel free to use “Ambassador for Humanity & Respect”.
- Focus on onboarding, which remains the most crucial part in the HR lifecycle. Remember, onboarding does not start with the joining day, nor with the contract signing date, it starts in the very first interaction between the candidate and the company – and this may be your website, your employer value proposition or any member of the company.
Make a difference; be different; be an “Ambassador for Humanity & Respect”.
Find more ideas on how to simplify your life in our self-coaching book “Intentionally Becoming Different” and/or in our online course “Unfold the Serene Leader in You” – Now.
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© Alexander Trost, Founder of ATvisor™; Picture Source: WordPress