BlogsHow to Be an Outstanding HR Leader

July 11, 2016, by Ryan Miller

HR leaders are often great connectors and role models. In fact, these individuals are often hired at companies because they display these skills and effectively mediate between company levels. HR leaders play an important role in talent development, company culture, and the overall success of an organization. Unfortunately, research continues to show that company boards consider Human Resources to be an area that lacks significant strategic direction and faces numerous procedural challenges. While these are incredibly useful criticisms to keep in mind and build a more robust talent management division, they are hardly insurmountable challenges. Throughout our work with HR leaders, we have learned valuable lessons about setting clear expectations, challenging the status quo, and developing top HR talent. We are entirely confident that by focusing on the following action items current HR leaders have the potential to go from “everyday” to “exceptional”. 

  1. Practice transparency – Historically, company culture has been closed mouthed about talent practices. Yet, one of the most positive and forward thinking actions you can undertake is to start being transparent with employees and top talent. This means explaining where they stand and why. Obviously, this requires finesse and will result in some very difficult conversations, but it also allows employees to make smart, relevant decisions and supports an inclusive and open company culture.
  2. Build a strategy – As noted above, company leaders and boards are realizing that talent management lacks comprehensive growth strategies OR strategies are not united with company strategic plans. Far too often, day-to-day challenges and immediate actions can distract from the necessity of setting long term, strategic goals and recognizing pervasive issues or best practices that should be addressed or instituted over time. So, take it from us, invest in the time necessary to create comprehensive strategic goals that function in line with the larger company picture.
  3. Foster accountability practices – Mange clear and quantifiable goals for talent development by holding people accountable for results. Too often, managers face zero consequences, positive or negative, for actions related to talent develop among their teams. Build a culture of accountability from the beginning to showcase the importance of hitting specific markers.
  4. Remain open to stretch goals – Recognizing realistic goals and what it takes to get there is paramount to success, but avoid the tendency to immediately reject stretch goals because of time constraints or other issues. Sometimes, there just isn’t going to be sufficient time to set up everything perfectly before execution. Managers and leaders will appreciate your willingness to see it from their perspective where stretch goals are concerned.
  5. Know your organization – inside and out – A large component of your job means focusing on internal operations and people, however, you need to display a comprehensive understanding of customer goals and issues as well. To truly support your employees in the most effective way possible, take the time to invest in understanding the customer environment. It will go a long way in fostering openness, accountability, and understanding amongst all.

To learn more about ways in which Centennial supports HR leaders, please contact Ryan Miller at (714) 740-1111 ex 274 or

This is part 1 of a 10 part series titled, The HR Leader.