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Executive Management and Leadership

What does it take to become a successful Human Resources Executive? Did most of the top HR executives attain higher education beyond a Bachelor's Degree? How long did it take most of these executives to reach the senior level? How many companies did most senior-level executives work for before reaching the senior level?

When in the presence of someone who has achieved success in business, it is natural to question: What is he or she doing differently than the rest of us?
 
Many people conclude that highly successful people are those who are blessed with higher intellect, more charisma, or simply luck. However, this is usually not the case. Recent accounts by business leaders suggest that the strongest factor tying successful people together is simple: their ability to be self-aware.
 

At times, HR executives can encounter a difficult path on their journey to the C-suite. The following strategies can be useful for HR executives who are interested in becoming a key part of their companies’ strategic organization.
 
1. Start with the Basics. Most executives know that the best way to move up in their career is to excel at their current position. By mastering the basics, such as contract negotiation strategies, an HR executive can quickly get noticed and move up the corporate ladder.

In a recent AESC/BlueSteps Executive Search Network group discussion, a group member asked “What does it take to be a high performer, i.e. "the corporate athlete", without experiencing burnout, anxiety and depression?” Response comments came from a variety of group members including HR professionals and international executives.

According to Jennifer Colombo, a Performance Driven Senior HR Director, the overall summary of the Corporate Athlete is that “you have to be strong across dimensions: the body (physically), heart (emotionally focused), mind (mental focus), and spirit.”

Complex and fast-paced changes have fundamentally altered the face of business during the past decade. Simultaneous shifts in the environmental, regulatory, sustainability, social and geopolitical dimensions have transformed management and placed exceptional demands on leaders.

If, as a consequence, human and leadership capital are an unprecedented source of competitive advantage for organizations, what could be the implications for the CHRO?

Executive CareerAs the leader of your company, it is important to create a culture that fosters honesty. It may seem like honesty should be lower priority compared to profits, but as we have seen from numerous examples, strategies solely focused on profits can result in illegal and immoral company practices. The good news is that there are statistics that prove an honest company culture results in not only a “happy” workplace, but a more profitable company.

The rules of corporate governance are changing rapidly. Spurred by shareholder activism, a strong emphasis on shareholder value enhancement and the imperative to be a responsible corporate citizen, the demands on CEO and Board are becoming stringent.

However, in many cases Board room practices do not meet today’s demands, and this raises several questions for Independent Board Directors. Should Independent Board Directors permit the CEO and their fellow directors to stand still? Should they remain passive and not rock the boat? Or should they act as true catalysts for change? If so, what can they concretely do to exercise effective participation in the Board ?

Leigh BranhamBlueSteps chats with Leigh Branham of Keeping the People, Inc. about his new book The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to Recognize the Subtle Signs and Act Before It’s Too Late (AMACOM, updated 2nd edition, August, 2012)

BlueSteps: First of all, can you share with us a bit about the work you do at Keeping the People, Inc.?