I am just back from an amazing week of Leadership Development in the Great Smoky Mountains with 21 other great leaders and I have a strong urge to express something.
Most of you know that after spending 18 years working in HR functions for large organizations, I made a major change a couple years ago to start my own business coaching executives and executive teams. And, HR continues to be near and dear to my heart. I share a kinship with my HR brothers and sisters, particularly when it comes to being the stewards of creating dynamic, people-focused organizations.
I also have a problem with HR that might best be expressed in its label. “Human Resources” and “Human Resource Management” both have an implication that people are things to be managed. Tell me I’m quibbling over semantics, but this is also my real-life experience in corporate America, not just with HR, but with most senior business executives. The very idea that people are “resources” that can be “managed” ignores their humanity. People can indeed be managed, but only by control and manipulation. When we try to manage people, we pigeonhole ourselves into a corner of needing to control them, and while it is possible to control behavior, it is INCREDIBLY limited.
My definition of Leadership encompasses two important components. The first is that Leaders Create. Leaders create something in the world that did not exist before. That could mean creating a global organization full of people aligned behind a common vision, or it could mean leading a stranger to smile on the street. The second component is Choice. Leadership exists only when someone chooses to follow, not because they are forced to, but because it’s what they WANT to do. The possibilities when people are led vs. managed is nearly limitless.
HR is fortunate to be positioned in the organizational hierarchy to take responsibility for leading organizational change. I believe it’s HR who can build a culture of Human Leadership, and it starts at home. HR needs to Lead the way. There are an enormous number of factors that inhibit organizations and their executives from embracing the truly human nature of leadership, so it requires tremendous leadership on the part of HR.
I want to dedicate a big chunk of my energy to developing HR Leadership and my beginning is a Leadership Coaching offering for HR Professionals. Give me your feedback. And if you are an HR professional who shares my passion for changing corporate America for the better, sign up.