Eight superpowers needed for HR leadership success

By Abigail Wilmore, Founder of People Flow

HR professionals have been under growing pressure since the pandemic when we were thrust into the spotlight and finally, all our skills were seen by the entire business.

We were managing vast new areas of work from furlough, and remote working to supporting the divergent needs of employee mental health and wellbeing. While this was hugely positive in terms of the perception of HR, the additional workload and increased personal psychological load took a toll on many of us.

Research last year amongst HR directors and C-suite professionals from Barnett Waddingham showed that a fifth are feeling ‘very stressed,’ with almost three in ten saying they have too many demands on their time, and 17 per cent unable to keep up with the pace of change at work.

HR teams have always been so much more than administrators and governors of policies and procedures. We architect and create positive workplace culture, support the health and wellbeing of the workforce, and support the entire ecosystem of the organisation in achieving its goals. However, whilst HRs are busy looking after everyone else, it is all too easy for us to neglect our own wellbeing and professional development.

To address this and I have set up a new HR community called People Flow which focuses on coaching and mentoring the next generation of HR professionals to develop their strategic influence, build resilience, grow in confidence and support their wellbeing with a whole new toolkit of skills.

I have also developed an innovative coaching and professional development framework to help HRs develop what I believe are the ‘eight superpowers’ they need to perform confidently at the highest levels in any business.

The Influencer

HR professionals need to be excellent influencers and use the power of persuasion to orchestrate change successfully. As an Influencer, they can craft and implement effective social strategies both within the organisation and for the employer’s brand externally. They work closely with marketing to understand different segments of the workforce or clients, tailoring strategies accordingly.

Influencers are trustworthy and passionate, qualities that make them relatable and genuine, enhancing their ability to connect with others. While they may not necessarily be top leaders, Influencers have a significant impact on their peers and the organisation’s leadership.

The Meaning Maker

Meaning Makers help employees see the value of their work in relation to the company’s mission and goals. They guide individuals to align their personal values with those of the organisation, helping them to develop a sense of purpose. They excel in distilling complex ideas into clear, focused understanding within the company and contribute to building organisational momentum towards achieving larger goals. They ensure employees feel a strong sense of belonging and are part of positive change. They are also the go-to person for employees seeking to discuss and reflect on various aspects of their work life.

The Pioneer

The Pioneer is an HR professional willing to take risks. They are future-oriented and have an entrepreneurial spirit. This individual is strategic, innovative, and not deterred by the possibility of failure. They have a skill for identifying unique pathways and strategies to improve workplace culture, employee wellbeing and processes.

Pioneers challenge the status quo, embrace change, and are creative and independent thinkers. While they are trailblazers, they also seek to bring others along on the journey, emphasising collaboration and collective progress.

The Storyteller

The Storyteller in HR is skilled at using the company’s history and heritage to connect with people. They excel at crafting and conveying compelling visions of the future and they use expressive language to bring stories alive. Storytellers capture attention and generate excitement, making others feel included in the company’s narrative. They play a crucial role in orienting employees within the company and reinforcing its culture through storytelling.

Storytellers also empower others to become effective storytellers. They are strategic in their approach, choosing the right moments for storytelling and understanding their audience’s needs. They are genuine and nurture human connections, enhancing emotional wellbeing within the organisation. By creating experiences through stories, lessons and information become more memorable which aids learning.

The Magician

The Magician has a holistic view of the organisation, which enables them to quickly grasp the systems, dynamics, and complexities within the workplace. This role involves understanding the intricacies of relationships and their impact on organisational effectiveness. They are well-versed at devising ingenious solutions that may seem like “magic” to untangle systemic issues and fix strained relationships. They use intuition and a deep wisdom that goes beyond tactical knowledge to find creative solutions to challenges.

The Product Designer

The Product Designer in HR uses design processes to create HR initiatives with a client-focused, human-centred approach. They use design thinking to ensure HR products are empathetic and effective. They focus on brainstorming, ideation, research, idea screening and concept development, followed by prototyping with a small group to refine the initiative before a company-wide rollout and evaluation.

The Product Designer works closely with marketing to ensure initiatives are well-communicated and received. They emphasise learning from creative colleagues and applying those insights to inform HR strategy and execution.

The Marketeer

The Marketeer excels at creating and communicating messages about HR products and initiatives. They use marketing tools to analyse employee data and segment populations for targeted HR campaigns. They bring HR initiatives to life through smart marketing strategies that increase engagement and strengthen the employer brand.

The Marketeer is skilled at branding HR services, understanding the “customers” (employees), and developing marketing strategies centred on them. They create comprehensive plans that build lasting, sustainable relationships with employees. By capturing value from customers, they effectively showcase the benefits of HR initiatives and create a positive internal social environment.

The Community Leader

The Community Leader is skilled at building networks within the organisation to advance growth and change. They mobilise the collective energy of groups or teams to achieve impressive results on projects. This HR role focuses on inclusivity, ensuring everyone feels heard and valued for their contributions.

Community Leaders shine in identifying and using individual strengths while also celebrating team diversity. Empathy is a hallmark of their approach, as well as the ability to inspire and communicate effectively.

To conclude

To deal with the pressures of the modern workplace, HR professionals need a formidable array of superpowers. By harnessing these powers – whether it is the art of persuasion, the courage to innovate, creating a sense of belonging and purpose or the ability to weave compelling narratives – HR can drive meaningful change, develop a culture of collaboration, and propel organisations towards a brighter future.

People Flow is the place for HR to go when everyone comes to us! We bring together Wellness, HR and Luxury and it is the place for HR professionals to feel heard and supported, gain exclusive access to coaching from incredible Chief People Officers to learn from their career and expertise, have access to regenerative wellness experts and to attend of in-person events held at beautiful venues and rooftop spaces. This brings opportunities for personal growth, valuable wellbeing advice and support and the chance to propel your HR career. Businesses and individuals can sign up for the community here: www.wearepeopleflow.com/community.


About the author

Abigail Wilmore is an entrepreneur who has founded People Flow.

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