'Thought Leadership' in HR: Championing practices that can make a difference
Thought leaders are passionate about their work and can not only inspire others with their enthusiasm, but also hit on innovative ways to deal with various issues.
For those who are eagerly keen in Human Resources (HR), their fervent interest will come through in their work and can help them stand out as a leader in the field.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Yadhu Kishore Nandikolla, Head of Human Resources at MassMutual, India shares some of the thought leadership skills and strategies you can use to position yourself as a thought leader within your organisation.
How would you define thought leadership (in HR)?
Thought leadership in HR refers to the ability of an individual or organisation to consistently generate innovative ideas and insights that shape and influence the field of human resources. This might involve introducing new approaches to HR strategy, conducting research that helps to define best practices, or sharing insights and expertise through writing, speaking, or other forms of thought leadership.
The goal of thought leadership in HR is to help organisations make better decisions around management and development of their people and to contribute to the overall advancement of the field. Thought leaders in HR are seen as trusted advisors and experts in their areas of focus, and their ideas and insights can have a significant impact on the way that organisations approach HR challenges and opportunities.
What are some of the thought leadership skills?
Thought leadership skills involve the ability to influence and guide organisational leadership toward driving change and innovation. This can involve being open to taking risks and making mistakes, as well as coaching others to have a similar mindset. Thought leaders also have the ability to think creatively and challenge the status quo in their organisation. They may also have a pioneering mindset and be able to effectively network and engage in lifelong learning.
Some key skills that can help you develop thought leadership includes:
- Strategic thinking: the ability to analyse and understand complex situations and develop creative, effective solutions.
- Communication: the ability to clearly and effectively convey your ideas to others, through writing, speaking, or other forms of media.
- Networking: the ability to build relationships and collaborate with others in your field or industry.
- Curiosity: a desire to learn and explore new ideas, and a willingness to challenge assumptions and seek out new perspectives.
- Courage: the willingness to take risks and stand up for your beliefs, even in the face of disagreement or criticism.
- Persistence: the ability to stay focused and motivated, even when faced with challenges or setbacks.
Adaptability: the ability to respond and adapt to change, and to learn from new experiences.
How can you position yourself as a thought leader in an organisation?
There are several strategies you can use to position yourself as a thought leader within your organisation:
- Understand the current state of the organisation through observation, assessment, and evaluation of culture, employee feedback, and leadership.
- Challenge the status quo and revolutionise the thinking process of leaders across the organisation.
- Use facts and data analytics to propose incremental changes and help the organisation undergo the change management process, making course corrections as needed based on feedback.
- Bring fresh and innovative perspectives to the organisation and drive a culture of innovation and risk-taking among the workforce.
- Convince leadership to enable an experimental culture in projects and adopt a fail-fast mindset.
- Develop expertise in a particular area: To be a thought leader, you need to have a deep understanding of your field. This can be achieved by continuously learning and staying up-to-date with the latest developments in your industry.
- Share your knowledge: One way to position yourself as a thought leader is to share your knowledge with others in your organisation. This can be through writing articles, giving presentations, or leading training sessions.
- Network with other thought leaders: Building relationships with other thought leaders in your industry can help increase your visibility and credibility as a thought leader within your organisation.
- Engage with your community: Participating in industry events and conferences, as well as engaging with your community through social media and other channels, can help establish you as a thought leader.
- Lead by example: Thought leaders not only have expertise and knowledge, but they also lead by example. This means demonstrating leadership skills, being a role model, and inspiring others to follow your lead.
How would you map the path to becoming a thought leader in HR?
As an HR leader in today's constantly evolving business environment, it is important to stay up to date with industry best practices and have a strong understanding of the business priorities and goals of the organisation.
Instead of applying a one-size-fits-all approach, HR programmes and practices should be tailored to the specific needs and maturity of the organisation. By viewing talent as assets and investing in them, an HR leader can become a thought leader, guiding, and influencing organisational leaders to do the same for both the present and future of the organisation.
It is also important to stay current on industry trends, best practices, and new research. This can be done through reading industry publications, attending conferences, and participating in professional development opportunities.
Practices that can make a difference
As a thought leader in the field of HR, I believe that several practices can make a significant difference in the success and satisfaction of an organisation's employees.
First and foremost, it is important to create an employee-centric culture that values open communication and transparency. This means fostering a work environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas, and where they are kept informed about important decisions and changes within the organisation.
In addition, HR leaders should focus on driving an innovation and improvement mindset among employees. This can be achieved through continuous learning and development opportunities, as well as by encouraging employees to take ownership of their work and think creatively about ways to solve problems and improve processes.
Another key practice is involving employees in the decision-making process. By giving employees a voice and allowing them to have a say in the direction of the organisation, HR leaders can foster a sense of ownership and engagement among employees.
Finally, HR leaders should work to enable employees to connect to the organisation's big picture by clearly communicating the company's mission and values, and by helping employees understand how their work fits into the overall goals of the organisation.
To further motivate and retain top talent, HR leaders should also focus on rewarding employees with opportunities for career progression and mobility. This can involve providing development opportunities, offering flexible work arrangements, and recognising and promoting top performers. Overall, these practices can help create a positive and engaged work culture that is vital to the success of any organisation.