If you aren't sure whether you want to be a Chief People Officer, read this 👊🏼

career chiefpeopleofficer cpo hr leadership womeninleadership Aug 07, 2023
If you aren't sure whether you want to be a Chief People Officer, read this

Today’s leadership teams so easily kill growth.

Most of the time they don’t even realise it.

Why? Because leadership teams so easily become an echo chamber if there’s no one in the room that is holding the group to the values they agreed to.

That’s where the Chief People Officer or Head of People, or even Head of Talent normally comes in. But if you are sitting there, feeling like an imposter, maybe you hold back and don’t call it out.

And that is only if you are there. So often I come across phenomenal People and Talent folks who are sitting just outside of the leadership table of organisations, instead being left to execute on someone else’s decisions.

The very best businesses in the world, and I mean the ones that really feel good for most people in them, are the ones where HR really has a seat at the table.

Having a seat at the table isn’t a privilege; it’s a necessity.
A strong organisation cannot exist without a solid people practice in place, and HR has to play a big role in strategic decision making.

For those of you wondering if you even want that that seat, let’s look at why you might want to be there.

  • Having a seat at the table means having a ringside view of the organisation’s inner workings.
  • It means being involved in shaping the organisation’s future, developing its capabilities, and understanding how various moving parts fit together.

If you think you might want it, the key to earning a seat lies not just in proactively demonstrating your value and expertise, but in the energy you do it in.

  1. How well do you know the company? If not that well, get to know as many of the moving parts as you can. I do this by literally meeting and spending time asking silly questions to everyone. It’s a bit of time investment up front, but it will save you so much time in future.
  2. How well do you know the sector? Sometimes we find ourselves working in sectors we aren’t that excited about, again, lean on the folks in your team who are excited. Try to immerse yourself in industry specific events and meet-ups to learn.
  3. Are you knocking loud enough to be let in, or are you quietly tickling the door? As they say in the North East of England, ‘shy bairns get nowt’. It might feel a bit cringey to keep approaching the same people, but the more you build your relationship with the leadership team, the more they will naturally invite you in.
  4. Be prepared. Know your business area super well, and always have a point of view. Even if you can’t add value to the discussion otherwise, there is always an angle on People/Hiring/Culture etc. with most business challenges.
  5. Work on your imposter syndrome. This will help with number three. The more you believe in yourself, the easier it is to put yourself forward and start asking for more. If you want to hear about my casefile of excellence and how this has helped the women I work with, hit reply and I will let you know.
  6. Overcome perfectionism. Start within your own team by adopting a more product mindset; one of testing and learning. That helps you get good at getting things wrong, which helps you build a thicker skin. The further up you move in an organisation, the more you need to be able to take direct criticism and let it wash over you.

Are you ready to create your vision for what is possible for HR within your business and deliver it…? Whatever it is you want to do in this season of your career, there is nothing I want more than to see you all:

  • Stop holding back your voice at work
  • Trust your intuition and share your wild and bold ideas
  • Support your leadership peers to understand how to create safe and supportive environments for others
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