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The most successful organisations recognise and value the contribution HR leaders make as part of the executive team. In response, HR leaders and managers need to step up their game to retain a seat at the executive table.

In a future that works’ recent research, Best in Class, I interviewed people leaders from some of Australia’s leading organisations. We discussed the transforming role of HR leaders.

The people leaders I interviewed spoke about how they are expected to be more ‘people’ focused and deliver a higher level of technical expertise and support to the organisation. In doing so, they find themselves a seat at the executive table and their visibility and recognition in the organisation has increased exponentially.

PepsiCo Senior Director of HR, Shiona Watson, discussed how she talks with business leaders, customers, external networks and the organisation’s people to keep up to date with information. Specifically, she takes the time to speak with new starters as she believes there is a “window of six months” in which new starters will be most honest about their experiences. This emphasis on listening and intelligence gathering is something many people leaders discussed with me and is one of the main ways they find they can add value to the organisation.

In modern workplaces, people leaders need to demonstrate strong leadership traits and a commitment to continuous improvement.

Some of the insights I gathered from the leaders from their Best in Class organisations included an emphasis on learning and developing in the role, while simultaneously developing others.

Mercy Health’s Group Executive Director – People, Learning and Culture, Kate McCormack, advised people leaders, “You need to stand up for what you think is right for the business. Sometimes that doesn’t make you a popular people leader and at times that can be really hard, so resilience is really important.”

AECOM’s Chief Executive, Todd Battley, appreciates the value in continuous learning in order to demonstrate the value people leaders bring to their organisations. In Todd’s experience, he has realised that effective leaders now and in the future need to maintain a learning mindset. “You haven’t made it yet, you have to stay relevant,” Todd offered as advice to other people leaders.

But it is not just about people leaders taking the initiative to get out into the business, to retain a seat at the executive table. Workplaces also need to enable and empower HR practitioners to understand the value they can add to the organisation, and to apply it.  

How do HR leaders and managers add value to your organisation?

Sign up to a future that works to read the full Best in Class report for more examples of how HR leaders and managers add value to their outstanding organisations in Australia.