The Power of HR Leadership By Lathasha Subban

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June 8, 2017
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On the 8 June 2017, the SABPP presented at the 4th Annual Emergence Growth HR Conference 2017. The theme was “The power of HR”, and it was well represented in the presentations and the audience.

As a speaker, I was overwhelmed with the enthusiasm of the HR professionals that attended, and through our interaction, I really admired the “HR leadership” that was being driven. Sharing the speaker platform with experts like Natalie Singer, Yendor Felgate, Prof Sakkie van der Merwe and Dr Pat Smythe, the event dealt with many HR and business challenges that HR professionals face in current times.

Areas of equal work and equal pay, talent standards, talent strengths, training and millennial engagement, was unpacked with solutions and practicality. Myths were squashed and real time statistics was shared and exchanged. The power of HR leadership created a strong fire on a very cold day in Johannesburg.

I witnessed an audience that engaged and interacted with the knowledge experts, but shared their challenges and solutions. I learnt new things about the drive for HR leadership, and what CEOs and businesses expect from HR. As the new and emerging trends were presented, I saw HR leadership step up and get excited to drive the change.

So, I will ask the same question that I started my presentation with, “Do you recognise yourself as the talent that will drive the business vision?”

As HR, we are responsible for the leadership development programmes, the leadership ladder and the leadership everything that the organisation requires, yet we have not unpacked our own leadership talent. HR leadership talent is vital to “lead” the programmes that build the organisation’s talent pipeline and workforce. Interestingly enough, the audience when asked the question went into deep thought, yet what I witnessed was a group of powerful HR leaders equipped to drive the business vision.

Here are some tips to assist in you in becoming “the talent that drives the business vision”:

  • Know the business plan. By understanding that HR does not work in silo of the business, but enables the business strategy with a skilled and competent workforce.
  • Change the words. Instead of accepting that HR is a “support”, add “strategic”. Become strategic and the support function will fall in place.
  • Talent audit yourself as HR. It is imperative that you understand your strengths and weaknesses, but more so your unique talent in HR.
  • Know the trends and innovate. Innovate your thoughts, processes and programmes by understanding the change in employee, employer and business needs.
  • Evolve the HR function. In the article “The evolving Employee”, I mentioned that since the employee is evolving in their needs and expectations, therefore HR needs to evolve and respond to those needs. Business evolution + Employee evolution = TALENT EVOLUTION = HR EVOLUTION.
  • Measure success and ROI. Everything we do in HR must have a measurement and must make business sense. Ensure your strategy aligns to outputs that drives business success.
  • New game + New rules = new skills & competencies. HR is a leader in talent, and the standard in talent acquisition, selection, benchmarking has changed. The adapt, evolve and survive mode is in action at present. HR needs to drive business by recognising the multi-skills and potential in their talent, and map those individuals to business outputs. Employees sit with many skills and competencies that need a platform to thrive.
  • Learning becomes digital, adaptive and accessible. Embrace technology as an enabler, your talent already is learning and growing their knowledge base with it.
  • Leadership at all levels. Recognise leadership at all levels. Most of the structures in organisations still have very hierarchical or flat structures, hence making leadership something from a top-down level. The power of HR leadership is that it can recognise leadership at all levels and measure through outputs.

HR is clearly a critical talent in driving the business vision, and mainly so because its role functions across the entire structure, between every level of work, and forms the life line between the employer and employee. This is why the power of HR leadership needs to develop and soar.

As I closed my presentation at the conference, I repeated a phrase I coined when I presented in India in February this year. It was a short phrase that I believe has a lot of power in it, and I hope it inspires the HR leader in you:

“HR IS THE HEART OF EVERY ORGANISATION”

As a HR profession, I truly believe that we are the King/Queen that is responsible for all the hearts of the organisation, and we need to ensure they beat well and in harmony. HR is the heart of every organisation….beat as the life line for the employees and employer and embrace your talent and leadership as a HR Leader.

Lathasha Subban is Head of Knowledge & Innovation at SABPP.  She was one of the speakers at the 4th Annual Emergence Growth HR Conference.  You can contact her on lathasha@sabpp.co.za  

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