Part 2: Building tomorrow's HR leaders: strategies for success


Debbie Mtshelwane, lecturer and HR programme leader at North-West University Potchefstroom campus, further explores methods to nurture future HR leaders and highlights their vital role within a comprehensive approach.

Building upon the foundation laid in Part 1 of this article, Debbie Mtshelwane, lecturer and HR programme leader at North-West University Potchefstroom campus delves deeper into exploring additional strategies for cultivating the next generation of HR leaders.

Data analysis and metrics

HR has moved from being very transactional to being transformational, which has affected many HR practices. This has necessitated implementing data-driven practices in workforce planning and talent management. It places a responsibility on management to provide knowledge, skills, and tools for HR leaders to use data analytics to make informed business decisions. The acquaintance and use of these tools will help measure HR initiatives’ impact on organisational performance. This change will affect our response to change and require adaptable HR leaders.

Agility and adaptability

Adapting to change is a challenge many leaders face. To become more agile and adaptable, we must cultivate a culture that embraces these qualities. It’s about creating an environment where HR leaders feel at ease with change, can navigate uncertainties, and contribute to organisational agility. In this journey, it’s crucial to support HR leaders during times of change, keep communication channels open, and provide the space for them to make mistakes and learn from them. This way, we pave the way for a workforce that survives change and thrives in it.

Mentorship and coaching

In times of constant change and development, we need to ensure the effective use and transfer of skills. We need to review our succession plans and policies, our mentorship and coaching strategies, and whether we use them effectively.
Mentorship and coaching programmes offer experienced professionals a platform to share insights, experiences, lessons learned, and advice to accelerate emerging leaders’ growth. These can be facilitated through frequent one-on-one and group sessions.

Ethical leadership

When HR leaders realise the power of being ethical professionals, it will impact how we do business. Over and over again the importance of leading with integrity, promoting fairness, and being transparent in all their HR adventures should be stressed.
HR leaders can be led, encouraged, and held accountable to uphold a strong ethical framework, ensuring that our HR practices are solid. It is about creating a workplace where trust and integrity reign supreme.

Innovation and creativity

Imagine a workplace where HR leaders are like creative experts, brewing up innovative solutions and crafting a whole new world of work. The future demands leaders who can think outside the box, find fresh ways to tackle problems, enhance employee experiences, and bring in and keep top talent. It is imperative to support and encourage HR leaders to be the architects of an innovation-filled culture in their organisations, shaping a workplace that’s as inventive as it is inviting.

Professional associations

More than a field, HR professionals form part of a large community of professionals. HR and related professional bodies within the field are actively engaging with the community of professionals to try to inform and empower professionals, share knowledge, collaborate, network and advance the field. As HR leaders, getting involved and learning from these professional bodies is wise. Some notable professional bodies in the field of HR organisations are the South African Board for People Practices (SABPP), the Institute of People Management (IPM), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), and other respected groups. As HR leaders actively  participate in these associations’ various activities, they gain valuable insights and build meaningful connections in the field. Developing HR leaders is an ongoing process that requires management’s buy-in and understanding. It will require a formal, informal, experiential and supportive organisational culture that values personal growth, and development and organisations that want to attract and retain exceptional HR leaders. To develop competent, effective, and efficient HR leaders, we need to combine these strategies as a foundation for building HR leaders who are equipped to navigate the complexities of HR and the world at large.

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