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An Introduction to HR Leadership

Leadership in HR is essential in businesses of all sizes. Human resources leaders are empathetic and strong and able to see problems from both employee and customer/client perspectives. They align their goals and initiatives with the company and do their best to create a better working environment for all employees. In this article, learn who HR leaders are, their best qualities and some of the most common questions about them.

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What Are Some Human Resources Leadership Job Titles?

Here are some common job titles associated with HR leadership:

  • Chief Collaboration Officer (CCO): This leader is typically a member of an organization’s executive team. While specific duties can vary depending on the organization, CCOs generally oversee staffing, business development, project development and execution and client management.
  • Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO): A CHRO’s duties include overseeing a business’ HR functions, such as hiring employees, advising senior leadership teams on HR policies and reviewing employee performance evaluations.
  • Vice President of Human Resources (VP HR): This leader oversees the HR department. They report to the President of Human Resources and are typically responsible for setting and enforcing HR policies in the workplace.
  • Director of Employee Engagement: This human resource leader is responsible for maintaining the HR infrastructure and spearheading HR initiatives. Specific job duties of an engagement manager may vary based on the specifics of the organization but typically include drafting policies, ensuring compliance with personnel matters and conducting performance evaluations.
  • Director of Human Resources: The duties of a Director of Human Resources are similar to those of a Chief Human Resource Officer. They serve as the connection between management and employees and work with the HR department in areas such as onboarding employees, conducting background checks, handling employee complaints and conducting layoffs and exit interviews.
  • Senior Vice President of People Operations: The Senior Vice President of People Operations is an executive HR position responsible for recruiting employees, coaching team leaders and overseeing every aspect of the organization’s HR process. They manage all HR programs and advise HR staff on resolving employee conflict.
  • Senior Vice President of Strategy and Culture: This position provides strong leadership to the HR department and oversees all areas of staffing. Specific duties can vary depending on the company’s needs. Some additional duties may include developing global workforces, overseeing home office human resource operations and managing budgets.
  • Senior Vice President of Global Talent: This HR leaderworks with and oversees HR leaders and specialists worldwide. They recruit global workers, and their responsibilities include evaluating candidates, interviewing candidates and implementing plans to retain key employees.

Why are HR leaders important?

HR leadership is crucial for organizational growth. A human resource leader works diligently to reach strategic goals and objectives by providing sophisticated and innovative leadership techniques. A human resource leader is a mediator between upper management and employees and champions causes on behalf of employees. They promote awareness and guide all levels of the organization through change and transition periods. They also coach managers and employees on company culture and better methods of coexisting and working together.

Additionally, those in human resource leadership positions must develop metrics and other performance indicators and make consistent changes based on overall performance. When there’s at least one individual monitoring these activities within an organization, they ensure that strategies remain effective and deliver on the return on investment (ROI) from the change.

Related: 4 Ways to Ask Cultural Interview Questions

Qualities of an effective HR leader

HR leaders hold many qualities that make them effective leaders. The following are typical characteristics of a human resource leader:


A forward-thinking human resources leader consistently plans for the future. Their goals involve getting ahead of trends and taking steps to constantly improve the workplace. Some of their primary objectives include creating safe spaces for current employees, convincing upper management of the benefits of diversity within the workplace and introducing new technologies that streamline processes company-wide.


An innovative human resource leader designs new and unique approaches for attracting, training and managing talent. They understand that being competitive means being different and trying something no other company has. Doing so helps the company stand out from other employers and attract the best talent available.


A strategic human resource leader aligns their creative approaches with the business’ goals. They understand those goals and the company’s overall vision to develop projects that work in tandem for a more efficient and effective environment.


Ethical human resource leaders are sensitive to the large amount of confidential employee information they hold. They’re trusted with everything from medical conditions to performance issues and manage employees not only by the law’s standards but in a way that’s best for their organization and people.


Empathetic human resource leaders are necessary for connecting with employees and understanding how to help them. These leaders form bonds with their employees and listen to them before instating their own policies or initiating their own solutions. Empathic leaders understand company problems from an employee perspective.


An accountable human resources leader takes responsibility for their actions, especially when new changes perform below expectations. They choose against pinning the blame on other employees or the organization’s resources. Accountable leaders accept circumstances as they are and work even harder in corrective efforts.

Related: 5 Steps to Creating an Effective Training and Development Program

FAQs about HR leadership

For answers to many of the most common questions surrounding HR leadership, refer to the list below:

What strategies can be used to improve HR leadership?

The main method of improving leadership is by implementing leadership training and development initiatives. Hire an expert who supplies an educated approach or send your best team members to a seminar. You can also ensure that the HR team and upper management collaborate on their goals and objectives. Doing so ensures that the efforts of both sides coincide and work together for the sake of the employees and the business’ health.

What separates good HR leaders from others?

The most effective human resource leader will pride themselves on building positive relationships with their employees. HR teams are responsible for introducing diversity and inclusion initiatives that show employees they care. Being a good role model is also essential for HR leaders. If they plan on implementing change or altering employee behavior, then these leaders must emulate what they seek.

Should HR leaders also focus on external efforts?

The best HR leaders understand the needs and concerns of customers just as much as their employees’. Creating real change includes altering the public’s perception of the company. This means HR leaders work closely with marketing and public relations departments ensuring that the public knows their new message of diversity, inclusion or other initiatives. Many consumers support companies that prove their forward-thinking nature and choose them over competitors.

What is the biggest priority for HR leaders in today’s business world?

One of the biggest priorities all HR leaders must prepare for is the greater need for talent in areas of organizational design and change management. These skills are not often taught to all HR leaders but are becoming more crucial as executives roll out new plans for development. The pressure of being forward-thinking and attracting a diverse workforce is greater than ever and implementing these changes takes time.

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