Council Post: 20 Key Tips For Aspiring Human Resources Leaders (2023)

If you're considering a career in human resources leadership, there are some important things you'll want to keep in mind to set yourself up for success. For one thing, HR leadership goes beyond administrative tasks: Success in this field requires a strong understanding of people and organizational dynamics.

To help aspiring leaders in the industry, the members of Forbes Human Resources Council discuss their tried-and-true insights from their years of career experience. Below are their top 20 tips for those considering the HR leadership job track.

1. Brush Up On Your Soft Skills

Leading in HR is all about making real connections with workers and understanding how their needs fit into where a business is heading. Therefore, emotional intelligence and strong communication skills are crucial to being successful. Particularly in a hybrid world of work, professional coaching can be a great way to brush up on these important soft skills before making the leap into the HR field. - John Morgan, LHH

2. Learn How To Mediate Conflicts

Being a "people person" doesn't necessarily translate to success in the HR field. HR professionals constantly field complaints and are expected to resolve conflicts. Strong interpersonal skills are key to successfully acting as a mediator and sounding board. You must also be skilled at processing information without becoming frustrated, disillusioned or internalizing workplace negativity. - Teresa Martins, Madison Logic

3. Be A Business Partner And An Employee Resource

It is critical to strike a balance between being a business partner who helps advance people strategies and continuing to be a "resource" for employees. There can be tension between the two, given today's high-paced business demands. But, if an HR leader is seen as an extension of upper management, it can set the tone for distrust of HR, which can increase risk and undermine business initiatives. - Natalie Norfus, The Norfus Firm, PLLC

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4. Consider A Career In Compensation

If you enjoy analyzing data and managing the largest expense in any organization, then I would suggest considering a career in compensation. It is one of the highest-paid functional areas in human resources and in the most demand. Conducting job analysis, job evaluation and market analysis and developing compensation plans is a highly marketable skill set. - David Weaver, Compensation and HR Group

5. Master The Art Of Balance

Mastering the art of balancing data, business acumen and strategic thinking with emotional intelligence, humility and human behavior. Balance processes, guidelines and requirements with employee engagement, experiences and feelings. Balance creating an organizational focus and making tough decisions with being an employee advocate and developing people managers. Finally, choose wisely which to pick when. - Gonca Icoren, Energy Vault Inc

Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries. Do I qualify?

6. Reflect On Your Role

HR is a highly rewarding field where leaders can witness the impact of their work every day. To know if they are on the right path, aspiring HR leaders should reflect on what role they play on their team. Do they find themselves regularly encouraging growth, inspiring collaboration and resolving conflict within their team? If so, that could indicate a strong capacity to succeed as an HR leader. - Niki Jorgensen, Insperity

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7. Stay Agile

HR leadership is a challenging yet rewarding career. To succeed, one needs technical expertise, people skills and a strategic mindset. Building strong relationships, fostering a culture of innovation and prioritizing diversity and inclusion are key. HR leaders can shape the future of work. Work as we know it is changing faster than ever, and the most agile and dynamic leaders will rise to the top. - William Stonehouse, Crawford Thomas Recruiting

8. Cultivate Communication Skills

Cultivate strong interpersonal and communication skills. As an HR leader, your ability to listen empathetically, resolve conflicts and effectively communicate with employees and stakeholders across the entire organization will be paramount to your success in fostering positive work environments and driving organizational growth. - Ahva Sadeghi, Symba

9. Be A Business Leader Of People

With the shift from process-driven to human-centric organizations and Boards of Directors immersing themselves into the business of people, there is no better time than now to be a strategic leader accountable for people. A fast path to being a top-notch CPO or CHRO is to be a business person first: demonstrate financial acumen and data literacy, lead change and be a partner to the CEO. - Laci Loew, XpertHR (a division of LexisNexis)

10. Invest In Your Development

Invest in your own development and find a mentor. Human Resources professionals, especially generalists, manage a lot already, so leading others requires you to be the best version of yourself. You need to know your leadership style and have an innate desire to understand how that affects those you lead in order to bring out the best in them. Mentors will give you the support you need in the "struggle" moments. - Tiersa Smith-Hall, Impactful Imprints, Training & Consulting

11. Develop Emotional Intelligence

One of the most valuable traits for an HR leader is being able to communicate well at all levels within the organization. This includes being equally comfortable in the boardroom and talking to field-level employees. The second most valuable trait is helping to drive strategy and clearly articulate that to employees to gain their trust and buy-in. Developing your emotional intelligence will take you a long way in HR leadership. - Hazel Kassu, Sudduth Search

12. Embrace Technology And Inclusivity

Embrace technology by redefining HR as a proactive talent experience creator, using AI-empowered tools to propel talent strategies forward. Cherish diversity and desire to cultivate inclusivity in the workplace. Finally, you have to have a love for working with people from all walks of life. If you genuinely enjoy helping, then a career in Human Resources could be the perfect fit for you! - Jess Elmquist, Phenom

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13. Practice Expansive Listening

Expansive listening is critical when considering a career in Human Resources leadership. This means listening first, assessing the data and relying on socializing cross-functionally to understand the impact of the initiative across the organization. Oftentimes, leaders stay in their silos, but without expansive listening, the success of HR programs and initiatives will not drive outcomes. - Cat Colella-Graham,

14. Bring Humanity Into Business Objectives

HR leadership requires a desire to understand people on a human level. This understanding, and the value it brings, should be incorporated into business operations and objectives. Excellent communication, empathy and the ability to problem-solve to achieve business goals, while simultaneously building relationships, are all professional qualities HR leaders should cultivate within their careers. - Laura Spawn, Virtual Vocations, Inc.

15. Be A Problem-Solver And Advocate

Focus on developing strong communication and interpersonal skills. HR leaders need to be able to effectively communicate with employees at all levels and to build strong relationships with colleagues and stakeholders. Additionally, stay up-to-date with industry trends and technology, and be adaptable to change. Finally, be a problem-solver and an advocate for both the company and its employees. - Joseph Soares, IBPROM Corp.

16. Talk To Seasoned Professionals

If you’re considering HR as a profession, I strongly suggest reaching out to a few seasoned professionals to ask what the job is truly like. Then when entering the field, try to get into an organization large enough to have some type of HR department. This will give you the opportunity to work in different aspects of HR and to learn from and be mentored by experienced HR pros. - Lisa Shuster, iHire

17. Immerse Yourself In Data

My best advice for those considering a leadership role is simple: immerse yourself in data. If your people data is limited, consider prioritizing what best-practice metrics you do have that support your operating model and evolve from there. If there are many that exist, consider layering them to form lead measures (overlag) for higher operational ROI (such as top talent high-risk of loss versus top talent exists). - Dr. Timothy J. Giardino, BMC Software

18. Practice Developing Your Point Of View

Practice developing a point of view on a broad organizational topic. This is more than having an opinion. It is about developing a thesis, evaluating data, testing with trusted advisors and advocating a course of action, along with a readiness to debate, defend or amend your proposal based on new information. It's the rigor and inclusive nature of this process that helps develop good leadership. - Paul Whitney, Sysdig

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19. Support Your Junior Employees

HR managers help define and drive the employee experience. The biggest challenge comes down to them feeling ill-equipped and inadequately supported by senior leaders to be effective at their job. Senior leaders should be taking steps to strengthen HR managers by having frequent one-to-one conversations and helping develop their hard and soft skills in conflict resolution, coaching and leadership. - Jamie Aitken, Betterworks

20. Remember The 'Why'

Human Resources is and will always be one of the most challenging positions ever, but it's also the most rewarding career path. You will fill others' hearts with the joy of being able to support their families. You will help employees manage through the tough times at work, along with being their counselor at times. You get that pride! That is what drives me. - Melissa Bolton, Precision Walls Inc.


What skills do you need to be a human resources leader? ›

While strong analytical skills, management ability, and coordination of programs are important, people who excel in human resources careers also have top-notch soft skills, such as the ability to listen and provide empathy to employees who might be difficult to manage.

How do you become a successful HR leader? ›

What Makes a Good HR Leader?
  1. Practising Honesty and Integrity. ...
  2. Motivating Others. ...
  3. Learning and Deepening HR Knowledge. ...
  4. Fostering a Culture of Development. ...
  5. Influencing and Building Relationships. ...
  6. The Power of Empathy in People Management. ...
  7. Application and Development of Functional Knowledge.

What leadership attributes are most important for human resource professionals to manage talent effectively why? ›

A good HR leader has strong emotional intelligence and puts an employee's interests first since a company's most important asset is its people. And while this is important, a true leader can only do this by knowing themselves, their strengths, and their weaknesses.

What is the role of HR leader? ›

Provide leadership related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, organizational culture and values that attract, retain, and motivate quality people, managing change that promotes development, civility, and work/life balance.

What are 3 skills you need to be a successful HR professional? ›

The competencies of an HR manager must include the ability to understand key HR metrics, such as recruitment, engagement and retention, and employee value and performance. Having some knowledge of Excel is a great advantage.

What would be the three most important leadership traits for a HR manager? ›

Here, we outline four essential qualities of a good HR managers that one can develop in order to advance up the career ladder.
  • Be a Great Communicator. ...
  • Be Aware Of Ethical Responsibilities. ...
  • Develop Outstanding Leadership and Conflict Management Skills. ...
  • Become an Expert in Organization and Multitasking.

What leadership style is best for HR? ›

The charismatic leadership model for HR is one of the most effective leadership styles, but it doesn't work for every organization. It is a leadership style that focuses on employee engagement, happiness, and enthusiasm within your teams.

What are the five leadership traits that a human resource manager might have? ›

A great HR leader:
  • Practices honesty and integrity. Leaders of organizations have to make quick decisions. ...
  • Communicates powerfully and transparently. ...
  • Engages and motivates others. ...
  • Develops themselves and those around them. ...
  • Collaborates and builds relationships.
Feb 11, 2021

What makes a great VP of HR? ›

Good verbal and non-verbal communication skills yield a better work environment and good employee and labor relations. Thus, a VP of human resources must communicate with the employees and HR management teams for effective tasking and to ensure productive outcomes.

What motivates HR leaders? ›

7 Keys To Effective HR Leadership And Motivated Employees
  • Share a clear vision. If you have a roadmap, share it. ...
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Spend time among your employees and ask and listen. ...
  • Engage your team. ...
  • Determine the route. ...
  • Reward and recognize. ...
  • Think, breath and share “success”. ...
  • Be fair.
Jan 24, 2012

What is expected from HR leader? ›

Making sound, strategic decisions to advance organizational goals. Designing effective compensation and benefits packages to attract and retain quality employees. Using data and statistics and leveraging technology to enhance performance. Demonstrating strong financial management and budgeting skills.

What are 4 responsibilities of HR manager? ›

The Human Resource Manager will lead and direct the routine functions of the Human Resources (HR) department including hiring and interviewing staff, administering pay, benefits, and leave, and enforcing company policies and practices.

What are the seven roles of HR manager? ›

There are seven main responsibilities of HRM managers: staffing, setting policies, compensation and benefits, retention, training, employment laws, and worker protection. In this book, each of these major areas will be included in a chapter or two.

What are the 3 C's of HR? ›

The next time you are leading your team, focus on your mindset and decide to be a three-C leader: competent, committed and with strong character. When we do that, our employees win, and when they win, we all win. Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries.

What are the 9 HR competencies? ›

The SHRM Competency Model supports professional development through a series of nine competencies:
  • Communication. ...
  • Relationship Management. ...
  • Ethical Practice. ...
  • HR Knowledge. ...
  • Business Acumen. ...
  • Critical Evaluation. ...
  • Global and Cultural Effectiveness. ...
  • Leadership and Navigation.

What are the 4 basic competencies that HR professionals will need? ›

Here Are The 7 Core HR Skills And Competencies Every HR Professional Must Have
  • Effective Communication. Hr professionals must have impeccable communication skills. ...
  • Relationship-building. ...
  • Adaptability Skills. ...
  • Technological Skills. ...
  • Keep Learning. ...
  • Critical Thinking. ...
  • Interpersonal skills.
Apr 27, 2023

What are the weaknesses of HR manager? ›

Weaknesses could include things such as a bad reputation in the employment market, a benefits offering that insufficiently attracts and retains workers, or a lack of training resources.

What does good HR look like? ›

HR is successful when the company has a culture focused on diversity, inclusion, equity, employee wellbeing, employee engagement and career development. HR is also successful when employees feel a sense of belonging and demonstrate their commitment to helping the company achieve its business goals.

What is HR leadership concept? ›

Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent.

What are the 5 H of leadership? ›

5 H's of strong leadership: takeaways from the 17th Annual Wharton Leadership Conference. A good leader is humble, human, honest, funny and a hard worker.

What are the four 4 traits of successful leadership? ›

Effective leaders are competent, skilled, secure, and considerate. These leaders find time for everyone; they are genuine and authentic in their communications and actions. People matter to them, and they openly demonstrate this fact to their employees.

What does a CEO want to hear from HR? ›

Availability and Recruiting

More than 55% of CEOs set availability and recruitment as a top priority in the Chief Executive survey. CHROs must ensure their team of recruiters knows how to find and attract top talent.

Why am I the best person for an HR position? ›

Excellent communication skills, the ability to express your opinions diplomatically, and patience are key skills in this role. You might answer something like this: “As an HR professional, I would demonstrate that I'm a team player and work in line with my business leaders by communicating effectively at all levels.

What is your strength in HR? ›


Both written and verbal communication are essential strengths for an HR professional to have. It's important that you can accurately explain different policies and protocols to new employees. It's also your role to help employees with any questions they might have.

What are the HR strategic priorities for 2023? ›

The top 5 priorities for HR in 2023. HR leaders must manage investments in people and technology, cultivate a positive culture and employee experience, and transform HR to be more automated and digital, all while new employee expectations are impacting retention and attraction.

What makes a HR manager unique? ›

Qualities of HR Manager. Qualities of HR Manager are Sympathetic Attitude, Quick Decisions, Integrity, Patience, Formal Authority, Leadership, Social Responsibility, Good Communication Skills. HR Manager's role is to interview and hire candidates based on their skills and talents.

What does the future of HR leadership look like? ›

What trends will shape HR over the next 5 years? By 2025, the HR industry will have been able to use technology and people analytics to move towards thought-leadership. A focus on real-time performance reviews and purposeful creation of a diverse workforce will shape best practices.

What are the two important roles of HR manager? ›

Human Resource Manager plan, directs, and coordinate the administrative functions of an organization. They look upon the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring of new staff; consult with top executives on strategic planning; and serve as a link between an organization's management and its employees.

What are the 3 functions of HR manager? ›

Here are some operative functions of an HR manager in detail.
  • Recruitment. The workforce is an important resource for any organization. ...
  • Development. ...
  • Working conditions and welfare. ...
  • Compensation. ...
  • Planning. ...
  • Organizing. ...
  • Directing. ...
  • Controlling.
Apr 22, 2022

What are HR 7 stages? ›

The employee lifecycle model is used to identify the various stages an employee goes through during their engagement with your company. The 7 stages include attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, exit, and advocacy.

What are at least three 3 skills needed by today's human resource professionals? ›

HR Skills and Competencies
  • Business Management & Leadership Skills. ...
  • Human Capital Development Skills. ...
  • Communication & Interpersonal Skills. ...
  • Strategic Thinking & Planning Skills. ...
  • Workplace Culture Development Skills.

What is human leadership skills? ›

Human leader or human leadership means putting the people first and having empathy and understanding for the employees or colleagues. Giving respect, freedom of expression and open-mindedness are the traits of a human leader.

What are the three important strategic HR tools? ›

Those tools include the following: Customized onboarding for new hires. Ongoing training opportunities for all employees. Ongoing meetings to review the HR strategy.

What are the 4 C's of leadership? ›

The importance of the four C's in leadership: Candor, Commitment, Courage and Competence are necessary to maintain strong and effective soldiers. A reflection of a good leader shows in his followers.

What makes a strong HR manager? ›

Qualities of HR Manager are Sympathetic Attitude, Quick Decisions, Integrity, Patience, Formal Authority, Leadership, Social Responsibility, Good Communication Skills. HR Manager's role is to interview and hire candidates based on their skills and talents.

What are the seven leadership techniques? ›

The seven primary leadership styles are: (1) Autocratic, (2) Authoritative, (3) Pace-Setting, (4) Democratic, (5) Coaching, (6) Affiliative, (7) Laissez-faire.


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