Tales from the Wendy House

I was reading the CIPD Work magazine today and an interesting article on “Why boards need human CEO’s (but won’t hire them from HR)”. That got me wondering why. I don’t really know many HRD’s that have made CEO. I know a couple that have left corporate life like me to become CEO of their own company, but not ones that have been promoted to the board.

Emotional intelligence according to the article is critical post pandemic for leading organisations successfully. Creating a culture, becoming an architect and ambassador of the leadership team is also important. This is stuff that HR leaders can be brilliant at, so why is it so difficult for the HRD to hit the top job?

Apparently CEO’s are right brain thinkers and traditionally come from finance and engineering. However, todays world requires a cool head AND a warm heart. Apparently, appointing an HRD to CEO can make the share price drop. WTH?

So which bit of this paradox is chicken and which is the egg? How does the HRD become CEO? The suggestion is that HR should be more commercial, know the numbers and be outwardly facing from the organisation. Surely a good HRD does this anyway? Understanding how to motivate people, create a great culture and being an ambassador of the company is a staple for HR.

What I think is missing is that HR is still not seen as integral to the organisation. Many HRD’s sit on operating boards rather than main boards.

There is also the challenge of the FD seeing the HR function as a cost rather than value adding, but it is the function that carries out cost reduction, creates development opportunities to get the most out of people to aid retention and deals with day to day disruptions in order to keep the waters running smoothly.

Perhaps, HR doesn’t want to reach the heady heights anyway and is happy with its lot. I’m not sure there is enough research into this area to truly tell us why we are in this situation.

One thing I do know, is that the is a significant opportunity for the HR profession. Also, according to the article, we are free from AI ever becoming the CEO – phew!!!!

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