Last month I shared the fact that the leaders and business owners of growing companies often go it alone when they have the most challenging decisions and situations to navigate. Today’s column will highlight why they do, what the alternatives are, and how can the human resource leader step up to support the business.
Why stay with the individual mindset?
I think the two reasons have everything to do with the rapid growth and changes affecting our companies and organizations.
First is that our executives and owners were hired into the organization with a set of skills opposed to what they need in their current role. As much as we have identified the skill sets needed for growth at each level of management, they often stay with what they are most familiar with, and the skills that helped them succeed.
Second is simply the pace of change. Technology, competition, strategy and all facets of business continue to accelerate at an ever-increasing rate. That’s a lot of spinning plates to contend with.
What are the alternatives?
Several perspectives need to shift. First, give up the belief that the CEO or business owner has all the answers. They need your help, and shouldn’t be trying to fix or solve complex problems on their own.
They can work to delegate to members of their leadership team so it’s not all on their plate. Being the answer man is no longer the job description for the CEO. They need to leverage all the talent and resources around them.
As part of the strategic planning process, action teams of cross-functional employees can be charged to look at the issue, and build a new set of recommendations. This is a great experience to gauge and further develop up and coming talent.
Often, the strategic planning process has the added benefit of prioritizing the issues and challenges facing the business. Executives often find themselves caught up in solving everything that comes their way. Planning helps prioritize the most important issues facing the business vs. everything occurring daily.
How should HR leadership help as a strategic partner?
What can you do to support and champion the changes needed by the top executive or business owner at your company?
Offer the CEO or owner your unique perspective. Often times, this is the value that clients tell us they gain from outside consultants; but, the HR leader can also offer the analysis and commentary that leads to this new way of looking at things. Share you perspective in one-on-one and management team meetings.
Help keep their skills current. HR and talent managers are most often charged with making sure employees and supervisors are trained to carry out their job. What about leaders at the top? Stephen Covey shared a famous maxim on becoming even more effective – take time to sharpen the saw. Leadership requires continuous learning.
Be their confidant. While we all have ever-changing, complex jobs today, the role of the top executive has pressures beyond belief. Sometimes they simply need someone to talk with and to share their realities. Take them to breakfast or lunch to talk on a regular basis.
There are also many things you can do to actually help solve the problems, but being in their corner, understanding their role and the pressures that come with it, is extremely helpful.
Dan Loichinger is the president of Loichinger Advantage LLC (www.loichingeradvantage.com). The Madison-based firm delivers proprietary executive coaching, leadership assessments and executive roundtables for owners and executives of growing Wisconsin companies. Clients value their ability to increase their leadership effectiveness, improve their insight, accelerate change, and increase their competitive advantage. Together with our clients, we deliver proven leadership growth!