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Talent Management

5 Qualities of Great HR Leaders

February 11, 2021
6 min read

Performance Management, Supercharged


In 2020, the disruption and changes organizations faced forced many businesses to make quick changes to processes. Companies implemented work-from-anywhere or remote work policies, performance management practices were reformed, and technology played an even more critical role in the success of teams. HR leaders placed a larger emphasis on employee mental health and well-being, and many workers shifted toward a purpose-driven approach to work. All of the changes over the last year have highlighted the importance of strong leadership at the top of your organization.

A great #HR #Leader is one that can #inspire, engage, and motivate those around them. @ClearCompany breaks down the 5 qualities all great #leaders need in 2021:

What Does HR Leadership Look Like in 2021?

The need for great HR leaders was clear, but what exactly makes a leader great? Great HR leaders vary depending on a multitude of factors. What makes someone excellent within one organization might be strikingly different from that of another. While individual departments might have their own definition of what a leader should do, one thing is overarching — in times of crisis, a great leader is one who can navigate disruptions and communicate reliably.

It’s clear the world needs great HR leaders in 2021, just as they relied on them in 2020. The qualities that make great HR leaders are helpful to assess and determine if organizations have the support they need to move forward.

Below, we highlight five key qualities of great HR leaders. A great HR leader:

1. Practices honesty and integrity.

Leaders of organizations have to make quick decisions. In moments of crisis or change, having honesty and transparency in your decision-making process can be crucial to the morale and success of your team. Employees need honest and open leaders in order to build levels of trust. HR Leaders can practice honesty and integrity by establishing regular check-ins or communication within their workforce. This allows space for teams to discuss new changes or potential obstacles and gives your employees a consistent and reliable schedule of communication.

“As a leader, integrity gives us credibility with the people we lead. If our actions as a leader lack honesty, then we lose the respect and trust of the people who we as leaders have to count on for our success.” - Simon Parkin, Author of “Hiring Right”

2. Communicates powerfully and transparently.

We touched on the need for consistent and honest communication, but great HR leaders need to do more than just communicate frequently. They need to send powerful messages that their teams and partners believe in. When leaders communicate powerfully, they convey their understanding and belief in their message. This helps to reaffirm uncertainty among employees and ensures that all parties are receiving the necessary information.

Before a leader announces changes to their organization, they should take time to think through potential questions or objections that may arise. By preparing for these conversations in advance, leaders can create a stronger message and address these concerns head-on. One thing to note is that not all members of your organization communicate in the same way. While a meeting might work for some employees, others may prefer email, memos, or recorded videos. Spend some time discussing with your team what forms of communication work best for them, and tweak your process to encompass the whole better.

“One of the serendipitous benefits of transparency is that simply by sharing data, performance improves.” - Laszlo Bock, Author of "Work Rules!"

3. Engages and motivates others.

It’s no surprise that a great HR leader is one who can inspire, engage, and motivate those around them. Fostering an environment of engagement and productivity in your workplace will help create a more loyal, satisfied, and high-performing team. While remote work has offered some a more accessible work-life balance, many employees still struggle with burnout or feelings of isolation. In 2021, great HR leaders need to spend time addressing these troubles and find ways to help keep their team motivated and on track for success.

“Engagement occurs when workers trust leaders and feel an emotional connection to the organization – the same way they did their first day on the job.” - Jill Christensen, Employee Engagement Expert, Jill Christensen International

4. Develops themselves and those around them.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again — leaders and employees alike crave self-development. Capitalizing on opportunities for professional development benefits all parties. HR leaders need to remain cognizant of opportunities for heightening their expertise and professional skill set. One way to continue your professional development as a leader is to attend webinars, conferences, or courses and share what you’ve learned with your team.

@ClearCompany says that great #HR #leaders need to #communicate honestly, powerfully, and transparently. Check out what the 5 qualities of a strong leader are in 2021:

Great leaders also identify and capitalize on opportunities to develop their employees and teams. Providing professional development chances within your organization helps lower turnover rates and employees gain greater skills and knowledge of the material, creating a more efficient and resilient workforce. Employee development is an excellent opportunity to highlight A-players who would be great leaders down the road. One method for developing high-performers is to form a mentoring program to nurture employees into their next significant career step.

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people not on strategies.” - Lawrence Bossidy

5. Collaborates and builds relationships.

Studies show that when individuals silo their work or isolate themselves, they become more prone to burnout. With tools that support remote work, collaboration across distances has never been easier. Highlighting opportunities for cross-department work and team collaboration activities can help your remote workers feel more connected. Part of this collaboration stems from creating strong and positive workplace relationships. The culture you foster and the respect you provide your employees will be mirrored in how they treat one another. When you work to build a supportive and caring team, the results show higher productivity and a greater desire to achieve workplace and organizational goals.

Start by ensuring your team has the technology and tools they need to complete their job. Project management tools, goal-tracking platforms, and video conferencing tools are all necessary for remaining accountable and communicating openly as an organization. One way to make sure that your employees feel supported in their roles is to schedule frequent check-ins. These quick meetings set the groundwork for honest and supportive workplace relationships and provide insights into the struggles and challenges your employees face daily.

“Connection fosters trust which inspires engagement which impacts productivity which drives valuation.” - Dave Bookbinder, The New ROI: Return on Individuals

As we get settled into the first quarter of a new year, reflect on a great HR leader’s qualities and identify areas you need to improve. Through mentoring and employee development initiatives, you can easily highlight candidates for promotion within your organization and future organizational leaders. Remaining honest, adaptable, and open to change will help your organization weather any further disruptions. ClearCompany can help make 2021 the year you lead your organization through transformation. Get a free copy of our HR Leadership Guide now, complete with templates, checklists, and ideas to make you the best HR Leader you can be!

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