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An Introduction to HR Leadership

HR leadership is essential in companies both large and small. These strong, empathic leaders see problems from both an employee and a customer perspective. 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, we discuss who HR leaders are, their best qualities and some of the most common questions about them.


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Who are HR leaders?

The following list contains some of the job titles associated with HR leaders:

  • Chief Collaboration Officer (CCO)
  • Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)
  • Vice President of Human Resources (VP HR)
  • Director of Employee Engagement
  • Director of Human Resources
  • Senior Vice President of People Operations
  • Senior Vice President of Strategy & Culture
  • Senior Vice President of Global Talent


Why are HR leaders important?

HR leaders are crucial for organizational growth. They help reach strategic goals and objectives by providing sophisticated and innovative leadership techniques. HR leaders are the mediators between upper management and employees and champion causes on the employees’ behalf. They promote awareness and guide all levels of the organization through the change and transition period. They also coach both managers and employees on company culture and better methods of coexisting and working together. 

Additionally, HR leaders 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) made for the change.

Related: 4 Ways to Ask Cultural Interview Questions


Qualities of an effective HR leader

The list below defines some of the best qualities of effective HR leaders:

  • Forward-thinking
  • Innovative
  • Strategic
  • Ethical
  • Empathic
  • Accountable



Forward-thinking human resource leaders consistently plan for the future. Their goal involves getting ahead of trends and improving the workplace as soon as possible. Some of their primary objectives include creating safe spaces for current employees, convincing upper management on the benefits of diversity within the workplace and introducing new technologies that streamline processes company-wide.



Innovative human resource leaders design 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 as a whole stand out from other employers and attract the best talent available.



Strategic human resource leaders align their creative approaches with the goals of the business. They understand their organization’s goals and overall vision and develop projects that work in tandem with these goals in creating a more efficient and more effective environment.



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



Empathetic human resource leaders are necessary for connecting with employees and understanding how to help them. These leaders form bonds and relationships 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. 



Accountable human resource leaders take responsibility for their actions, especially when new changes perform below expectations. They choose against pinning 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


Frequently asked questions

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 health of the business. 


What separates good HR leaders from others?

The most effective HR leaders 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 perception of the company to the public. This means HR leaders work closely with marketing and public relations departments ensuring that their new message of diversity, inclusion or other initiative is known to the public. 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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