The Emerging Role in Human Capital

During our research for the book Talent Readiness-The Future is Now, our findings indicated that those in the CSuite want to see a fundamental change in how the most senior leaders are developed at the enterprise level.


What became abundantly clear during our research was that the current model for the HR function where Talent Management is at least 2 if not 3 levels down from the CSuite and with enterprise wide role architecture is suboptimal. 


This has led the Discussion Partner consultants to the conclusion that the current organization model in Human Resources impairs innovation, accountability, and sustainability for Leadership Effectiveness at the highest level of an organization.


To have a dedicated HR function for the most senior levels of an organization is not new.  General Electric and many other organizations have dedicated resources for the “Top 200”.  Essentially this approach focuses mostly on the high potentials possibly to the exclusion of B players, in critical roles or assigned mission essential projects.


Our point of view is there needs to be a more generous interpretation of this effort, one that requires a new title, reporting relationship, role architecture, and competency.


Our model for consideration aligns in the following way.



Chief Leadership Effectiveness Officer (CLEO)

Reporting Relationship(s)-

Direct Line-Board of Directors

                                                Dotted Line-CEO

Role Architecture-

  • Succession Planning Top 3 Levels
  • Recruitment/Replenishment  Top 3 Levels
  • Development Strategy Top 3 Levels
  • Executive Compensation Strategy and Administration Top 3 Levels
  • Workforce/Continuity Planning Enterprise Wide
  • Thought Leadership Facilitated Access-Board, CEO and CEO Direct Reports(facilitate access to thought leaders for education/edification purposes





Desired Competencies-

  1. 1.   Strategic Planning Expertise
  2. 2.   Executive Coaching/Facilitation Experience
  3. 3.   Leadership Assessment Orientation(not necessarily Practitioner)
  4. 4.   Working Knowledge of Executive Compensation Strategy and Programs
  5. 5.   Thought Leadership Credentials(writing, academia, other)



One could reasonable assert the following two viewpoints:

1)   These Positions Exist in HR Already-True….but our point of view as to focus the importance of this effort it should be out of HR for practical reasons

2)   The credentials of this role exist: but among various incumbents-True again….but our point is that having this body of expertise and outlook resident in one senior position optimizes effectiveness


The hypothesis of the Discussion Partner consultancy is the time to debate the upgrading of heretofore sub processes into one role is timely.



The Globalization Quiz!

During a recent workshop with a group of Human Resources Executives of a Fortune 100 Global Company, we asked the 15 participants the following questions:


                             Question                                             Respondents

  1. How many of you were born outside the US?                0
  2. How many of you have had 10 years as an Expat?      0
  3. How many of you have had 5 years as an Expat?        0
  4. How many of you have had 1to2 years as an Expat?  2                
  5. How many of you are fluent in a second language?   3
  6. How many of you spend at least 60 days Int’l travel 5
  7. How many of you like Italian food?                                     13


Although the quiz can be construed as tongue in cheek humiliation, it is also a proof point.  As a general rule the HR leadership of US centric “global companies” for the most part is rather parochial we would submit even if they travel extensively outside the US.


In our research for the book Talent Readiness-The Future Is Now! we conducted a survey of 150 CEO’s on their aspirational expectations of the Human Capital function. 

Among the top 10 responses was “assist leadership in becoming a truly global enterprise”.  31 of the CEO’s were headquartered outside the US.


We are not sure that there is sufficient time for every senior HRM to master the advanced levels of a Rosetta Stone course, or persuade the 2 outliers of the benefits of mozzarella….yet there is a need for the domain to respond to this deficiency in orientation, outlook, in order to satisfy CEO expectations. 


There are 5 practices that are emerging that may be useful.


1)   90 Day Wonders-It is somewhat of a military model whereby Officer Candidate School is this duration.  Our recommendation is that the most senior HR managers be required to spend at least 90 days on business travel.

2)   Knowledge Transfer-Use of Executive Coaches whom have lived and worked in the regions who can advise executives on mores and approaches for assimilation

3)   Rotation-Reverse the model of sending Americans overseas in favor of having high potential targets coming to the US for semi-permanent placement as part of a longer term HR Succession Plan.  





4)   Non Exclusionary Development-Look for opportunities for HRM’s from outside the US to participate in company sponsored events/training in the US even accompanying their cognizant manager vs. relying on them to have knowledge be communicated

5)   Change the Hiring Profile for US HRM’s-Embed into the desired qualifications.  Basically change the game!


For a Global HR entity to set as a goal “in five years 50% of our staff to come from outside the US or have an international orientation through their family or education” is ambitious.  Yet compare that to the revenue stream that is expected to be derived from non US operations.  This compare and contrast exercise has its merits.


Our research would indicate that the CEO’s do not expect their US centric HR mangers, or we hasten to point out would those CEO’s who were from outside the US, “become global by exporting practices and processes”.


One Canadian CEO stated it well “To be Global HR need to Be Global”.

The Partnership Failure

The Partnership Failure

In the recent past we have worked with a number of global clients on their HR Operating Model.  The CSuite research we have been undertaking clearly points to the need for not only a more global orientation, simplified processes and practices: but also a measurement of internal customer satisfaction. 

The CEO’s have it right….as we emerge from the Global Recession; a strong Employer Brand is the threshold for workforce replenishment.  The progress thereto must be tracked.

Unfortunately one, if not the, most critical role in the HR model to satisfy this interest is that of the Business Partner.  Yet time and time again we are saddened in the prosecution or our client work to discern that the loyalty of this group fulfills the metaphor of “Elvis has left the building”.

When we probe deeper, it is not an issue of competency!  Moreover it is a lack of affiliation with, or loyalty to, their HR colleagues!

The question is not why…that is unfortunately clear during these difficult times when the function for the most part is being criticized while focused on unpleasant tasks such as restructuring, SSO creation. benefits modification, curtailment and elimination of services.  In these times  who wants to be “one of them”!  Yet whether it be dotted or straight line reporting, distant or proximate location….get used to it… are one of them!


Our client work, beyond the antipathy  this phenomenon prompts, mostly concludes, that the mantra from an HRBP of “if only HR” diminishes not only the Business Partner incumbent, it complicates the Functional Strategic Intent.

So what do we mean by diminishment of the Business Partner? We refer to this outcome as one of “Organizational Hostage”.  The leaders/clients to who you have been assigned to serve, ultimately feel distrustful of someone who is not an advocate of their own function and colleagues.  We would submit even more emphatically that this positioning leads to manipulation of the HRBP with the reputation of the HR function being disenfranchised.

We do not see it advantageous to the HR function if the Business Partner promotes the most likely criminal defense of a guilty party ODDI (the other dude did it)!

The reinvention of the HR Operating model this millennium is of paramount importance in a global economy.  It will require HR incumbents to educate, confront, resolve, and collaborate as truly in this function, the power of the whole is the sum of all of its parts.

To be clear…and acknowledged provocative….our recommendation when we unearth Organizational Hostages is to a) transfer them immediately, b) keep a close look on their objectivity and advocacy, c) at the first hint of the replication of bad behaviors, displace.

The end of the recession and all of the growth opportunities that portends will require the energies of serious people, not those who find it convenient to forget they are the “other dude”.