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Susan M. Heathfield

Characteristics and Competencies for HR Leaders

By February 26, 2014

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The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), in Leading Now, Leading the Future: What Senior HR Leaders Need to Know, identifies eight leadership skills essential for senior Human Resources leaders. If you are a member, you can access the survey findings.

"Successful senior HR leaders consistently show executives in the C-suite that they understand the broad operations and processes driving business," said former SHRM President and CEO Laurence G. O'Neil. "Equally important is the ability to explain the role of human capital issues and solutions in the context of broader business operations linking finance, operations, and marketing."

Essential HR Leadership Skills

Essential HR leadership skills identified in the SHRM study include these:

  • Knowledge of business, HR and organizational operations,

  • Strategic thinking and critical/analytical thinking,

  • Leading change,

  • Effective communication,

  • Credibility,

  • Results orientation and drive for performance,

  • Ethical behavior, and

  • Persuasiveness and the ability to influence others.

For senior HR professionals employed in global organizations, SHRM found that they need to possess both a global mindset and the ability to be flexible in order to adapt to changing global business needs.

Ethical behavior was also identified as key for HR leaders. Emerging skills that HR leaders will need to develop include global intelligence and technological savvy.

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