What It Takes to Be a Global HR Leader

In a few weeks, some of the smartest thinkers and HR leaders will come together at UNLEASH America in Las Vegas. I’ve worked with HR teams and senior leaders at organizations around the world, and I’ve seen HR as a function completely transform over the past few years. HR is much more sophisticated and complex than when I first got involved. In 2018, running an HR organization takes a global perspective, a deep understanding of how technology is changing our work, broad experience in many different corporate functions and a focus on people.

A Global Perspective

In my mind, there’s no question — HR leaders need global experience. The best HR people I’ve met come from global backgrounds. That’s because most HR departments are no longer hubs of administrative work. Instead, the HR department has transformed into the talent department, and talent leaders need to know how to work with many different people, potentially spread over different continents.

A Deep Understanding of How Tech Is Changing Work

We’re living in a world of continuous change, and it’s essential that HR has a place in that. HR’s new role, along with culture and happiness, is future-proofing businesses. That means understanding the massive industrial change that’s coming.

We’re in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution. The biggest taxi company in the world is Uber, and it owns no taxis. The biggest real estate company in the world is Airbnb, and it owns no real estate. We see disruption coming through these exponential technologies. HR has to stay very connected to what those exponential technologies are doing to the marketplace.

That will mean re-skilling the workforce. Presently, we’re kind of sleepwalking into disaster: Gallup released a report earlier this year revealing that 77 percent of Americans aren’t worried about losing their jobs to automation. So we need some serious education.

I talk to CHROs who are re-skilling thousands of people. They know their jobs will be gone in five years. I think it’s our responsibility to act now.

Broad Business Experience

I know many smart, savvy HR professionals who have always worked in HR. But I also know a lot incredibly effective HR leaders who worked all throughout organizations — operations, finance, sales, executive leadership — before they landed in HR.

Let me put it this way: The best way to get experience as an HR leader isn’t to take more courses and work on more formal certifications. It’s to get out there in the business, talk to more people and get a better understanding of how different departments work.

Today’s HR leader needs a broad understanding of how a business works, and how business decisions affect people.

They need to know how use HR technology to analyze employee data and create real-time reporting for leadership. They need to be able to use technology to read the pulse of the organization.

A Focus on People

Finally, HR people need to be — it seems crazy to even have to say this — good with people. We’re living in a world where most people are unhappy at work. Americans are working 80 hours a week for the American dream. Employees are looking for a better experience. Only HR representatives who understand people and care deeply about making work better can really make an impact.

Historically, HR would come into a workforce and immediately treat everyone like kids. “You get a 4 out of 5 on your performance review. You were a good boy or girl, so you get a bonus of 1%.”

At so many organizations, work is still a place where people are trapped in the chains of bureaucracy and endless administration. We’re trying to unleash people from all of that.

To continue the conversation about the big changes coming to HR, book your spot at UNLEASH America at the Aria Resort in Las Vegas, May 15-16, 2018. You’ll hear from speakers including:

Register here.

Reboot: Personal Brands and the #TFT13 Conference

(Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled to welcome Nick Kellet to TalentCulture as a guest blogger. For more information about Nick, see his profile at the end of this post.)

For many members of the TalentCulture community, there’s only one conference this week — SHRM13, the Society for Human Resource Management annual meeting in Chicago. But I’d like to focus on another conference that happens on Tuesday. It’s called TomorrowsFutureToday (TFT).

At first blush, TFT may not seem relevant. The topic is IT service management. But TFT’s business model deserves a closer look. Founder Chris Dancy is leading a movement to rethink every aspect of conference design and management — including how speakers are recruited, how content is created and shared, and how participants engage during live sessions and beyond.

This fascinating story lives at the intersection of social business, content strategy and technology. It’s a disruptive model that signals the growing power of crowdsourcing, expert networks and personal branding. It touches on many of the same issues and opportunities that are redefining the “world of work.” And from that perspective, it’s an inspiring example for TalentCulture.

Snapshot: What Sets TFT Apart

TFTResultsTFT is a semi-annual, one-day “follow-the-sun” virtual conference, where 24 experts from around the globe speak for an hour each. Unlike classic conferences, the speakers are selected by professional practitioners and peers (via Listly). This replaces the “old-boy” model, where conference organizers control the agenda. Very cool.

Even cooler, all the speakers are paid. Yes, all of them. What’s more, the content “lives” long after the conference. Presentations are recorded and automatically converted into trans-media assets (slides, video, audio and transcribed text) that are reusable across a wide spectrum of digital channels. (This is accomplished via Zapier.)

  • Speakers are encouraged to redistribute content anywhere they wish, indefinitely
  • Access to all content is absolutely free to anyone who is interested, forever
  • The overall event experience — before, during and after — has a big impact on its perceived value
  • Similar to TED Conferences, the agenda development process ensures superior quality speakers and content. No pressure.

Implications for Personal Branding

The first TFT conference occurred in December 2012. That inaugural event demonstrated not only strong community engagement that won sponsorships, but also helped boost awareness and credibility of its speakers. Fact: since their appearance in December, half of the speakers have moved on to bigger and better professional roles.

So, what does that say about the power social media exposure, and its influence on personal brands? Chris Dancy took several moments to discuss this and several other related questions:

1) How do collaboration and social community relate to personal brand building?
“Collaboration and social community are the foundation of personal branding. Both depend on systems of attention, influence and altruism. Personal brands don’t transfer in hyper-digital economies without conscious consumption of community content. By serving the community first as a consumer, you then have the ability to understand the needs of that system. You have two ears, one mouth and 10 fingers — talent observes before it offers suggestion.”

2) Can you really crowdsource your way to a “brand” new career? How can others do so?
“I don’t believe you can crowdsource your ‘brand.’ You can crowdsource your values. If those values are stronger than the habits of a community, then your brand and career will reflect these systems. Others suffer from being overwhelmed by information, tech and connections. We must first teach people to make healthy tech and information choices. Healthy information diets are to the 2020’s what Tab cola was to the 1970’s.”

3) Did the speakers who landed new careers imagine this would be the outcome from a virtual conference culture?
“None of the speakers on TFT who transitioned to different careers imagined the vault in their careers.  The speakers at TFT12 and TFT13 never considered it a virtual conference. In large part, speakers felt honored to be selected by their peers. It was that empowerment that moved their careers. To feel worthy of attention and time in a climate short on both, is the brand found inside of confidence and outside of hubris.”

The next LIVE round-the-clock event is tomorrow, Tuesday, June 18, 2013. Click here to follow the action in real time, or check back anytime to find content after-the-fact. You can also follow the conference backchannel at #TFT13.

In the meantime, let me know what you think about this business model. Could this work for your business domain? And how could you shape and enhance your personal brand while sitting in front of your computer?

Interesting questions — and enterprising people like Chris Dancy are helping us fill in the blanks. Share your ideas below, or connect with me on Twitter @NickKellet.

Nick Kellet, Founder, 015_img_2801(Author Profile: Nick Kellet is co-founder of social curation platform Listly. He believes that effective curation is as much about listening and engaging as it is about publishing and the tools themselves. A serial innovator who loves to jump domains from board games to business intelligence, Nick also believes that passion in the company of friends and community is an unstoppable force.

Connect with Nick on Twitter, on LinkedIn and on G+, and follow his writing via his other guest posts and on his blogs at and at