Article: 5 survival skills for future HR leaders


5 survival skills for future HR leaders

In a constantly changing world, let’s explore what’s key to surviving the disruption and making it to the future as an HR leader.
5 survival skills for future HR leaders

“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” - Malcolm X

The debates and discussions surrounding man vs machine, humans vs robots, and human essence vs AI have been going on for quite some time now without a declared winner. What has come out from these discussions though is that technology is here to stay and humans are irreplaceable. The question is no longer about who will conquer, but about a trade-off, rather balance. And how able and capable is one to strike that balance will determine their future, as well as the future of the ones around them. 

These capabilities are not necessarily in-built, these are skills that given the intrinsic drive of humans in the present time, they can be acquired and sharpened over a period of time. As HR professionals and leaders, these skills become even more critical to be able to navigate and lead the rest of the organization through turbulent, uncertain and disruptive times. But what are these skills that will future-proof you as an HR leader as you ponder over your next curve?

As an HR leader, before you plan for the future, you need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. And helping you look at this bigger picture with the right lens, is none other than Michael Vance, who gives you 8 lenses to filter through the clutter and identify pillars to strategize. These 8 lenses or as he calls them 8 equities are - physical, spiritual, psychological, intellectual, emotional, financial, social and family. While these are broad equities to ponder upon as you navigate your next curve, you do need to streamline your focus on internal skills to be ready for the future.

We bring to you five such survival skills that are critical boost your ability to survive and capability to lead in a future that remains unknown.  Let’s find out what these are below!

Emotional Intelligence

The world of work is already experiencing turbulence and going through a disruptive phase, and no one yet knows where the path leads. However, what we do know is that this disruption brings with itself opportunities and technology, and both in abundance. What lacks is clarity, and that missing piece triggers fear, anxiety, stress among the workforce, which becomes an additional situation to manage. The rising job insecurities among employees and the resulting fear of financial instability is a trigger for an unhealthy and unproductive work environment. Leaders need to prioritize building their emotional intelligence to combat such man-made worries and not only redirect the energy of the workforce, but also identify and acknowledge their concerns and offer new-age solutions to their diverse set of problems. Some basics to guide you in this skill include - effective listening, making open communication a priority, valuing ideas and empowering employees in their journey.

“75% of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust.”  - The Center for Creative Leadership

Need we say more?


Ambition is no longer just a trait you are born with. You might have not always been an ambitious individual, you make do with what is served to you and have learnt to be content. While that is an important human trait to survive, an important trait for future leaders to survive and thrive is being ambitious. HR leaders of tomorrow need to be hungry and driven to learn, driven to get better, driven to scale performance, driven to better performance, driven to create business impact, and driven to explore untapped paths that lie outside of their comfort zone and KRAs. The world of work is changing, the role of HR is evolving, and to be successful as a leader in such times, your ambition and craving for performance, results and development will determine your path as a leader.


The term VUCA has been in existence for quite some time now. While it was applicable in pockets and dependent on the nature of an industry, organization and people, it now is more universal in the real sense of the word. And to lead the workforce in such volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous times, HR needs to gear up and be willing to take calculated risks to sail through the disruption, by building an internal ability to take chances, be brave enough to voice contrary opinions, experiment, fail fast, learn, improvise and try again. By embracing change, continuously learning and not being afraid to experiment, HR leaders can elevate not just their role, but also their impact. They need to be willing to challenge the status quo, think beyond HR, build business expertise, develop critical/analytical thinking skills, take initiative and become a lifelong learner.


The concept of a leader being the head of the team is long gone. An absolute non-negotiable to become a future-ready HR leader is to be collaborator. HR as a function no longer works in isolation on just performance management, talent acquisition, employee engagement and so on. Today HR is very much a critical component of ensuring smooth day-to-day functioning of the organization as well as being a strong decision-maker for people and organization related matters. A successful HR leader isn’t one with an expertise only on people and operations, but one with an expertise in utilization, cost control and profitability as well. By collaborating with leaders and teams outside HR, upskilling and cross-skilling across domains, and fostering a cultural fabric that bolsters the impact of team work over individual achievements, the future HR leader can reignite dormant potential of the workforce.


As crucial as it is to collaborate, it is equally crucial to delegate. As easy as it is to say, delegation is a skill that does not come easily to a lot of leaders. While some leaders have a need to control everything, some lack trust in their teams to be accountable, and some simply don’t see it as a possibility. Delegation in other words also means to empower. Leaders often have a lot on their plate and that is a never changing scenario unless they learn to prioritize, delegate and hone the skills of their teams to take up portions of that work and step up in their roles. Delegation is not only about the work in hand, but also about planting seeds of leadership for the future. 

As said by actor John Cusack about Theo Epstein, a renowned American baseball executive - “His power lies in a paradox, in the knowledge that the only way to keep power is to give it away.”

To keep your power as a leader, you must learn to also give it away. Like they say, sprinkle the stardust.

How future-ready are you?

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Topics: Leadership, #MyNextCurve

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