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10 Tips to Heroic Leadership You May Not Hear from HR

You have mad leadership skills and you’ve read a ton of leadership books (titles and summaries totally count). But you suspect there’s something you’re HR leader isn’t telling you. Here, in no particular order, are 10 powerful pointers from this 20 year HR exec that might be tough to hear but may just take your leadership to heroic heights.

Have the courage to stand up for what is right and in alignment with your mission and your people. You have a lot of pressure and responsibility to meet the expectations of other people under a lot of pressure and responsibility. Don’t let insecurity, pressure, fear of failure or losing your own paycheck, position or parking spot overpower your common sense, your values or your ethics. Keep your eye on the who and the why to maintain alignment with what really matters. Because, at the end of the day, the most important person you answer to…is you.

Give your team permission, scratch that, demand that your team challenge you on decisions if they sense misalignment. Be courageous enough to be questioned. Respectfully and appropriately in the spirit of loving, productive argument, of course.

Look in the mirror more than you look at the budget (or at least as often). If you will actively seek feedback and genuinely spend time learning and understanding your own motivation, behaviors and style, you will be able to hone and refine the greatest leadership superpower that exists…self-awareness! When I coach exceptional leaders, like you, creating awareness is always the primary goal. Because awareness changes everything! Like Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Be a human first. Always. In everything. And while you’re at it…be a kind human.

Love being a leader or get out of the role. Too extreme? I don’t think so. Leadership is kind of a big deal with a lot of challenges and a ton of opportunity to have a real impact on real people and real outcomes. And…it’s real hard! If you’re struggling with it, you’re 100% normal. But because there is tremendous responsibility, you need to learn where the struggle is for you. Do you need training, a mentor, resources, valium? Whatever it is, take some time to figure it out and get what you need to actually enjoy this leadership thing. Figure out why you do it and what makes you love it! Because the opposite of loving it is surviving it and that’s just no way to lead or live.

Know. Your. Why. I just gave you THE KEY to personal and professional fulfillment. You’re welcome.

Ditch the suit. I mean seriously…you physically tie a knot around your neck 5 days a week! Metaphor for work? I don’t know. But I do know that it’s very effective for differentiating you from the rest of your team as an “executive” if that’s your goal. At least consider “why” you’re wearing it. You may be working really hard to promote creativity and “team” with your people; but your suit may be screaming conformity and status.

Get your very own devil’s advocate. You are in a role that gives you a lot of authority over other people’s paychecks and career paths. People who may not necessarily be inclined to tell you when you have stepped off, said something stupid or that you have a long nose-hair. Find someone you trust with aligned values and vision to help you see your blind spots. There is really nothing more valuable or critical to your leadership success. *Side note – I’m pretty stellar at this if you’re looking to hire one.

Embrace your imperfection. Often said…”know your strengths and hire your weakness.” Those of us following your lead want you to be successful, we NEED you to be successful. Be smart enough and secure enough to know that you got the job because you are qualified and skilled for it…but you aren’t perfect. Despite what your momma says. Supplement your areas of opportunity by surrounding yourself with people who have strength in those areas. We’ll all be better for it…and you’ll look like a freaking hero!

Be brave and have fun! The universe has you here for a reason. Step into this incredible opportunity to serve with joy, optimism and anticipation. Remember that you wanted this role and you love this stuff so make this an exciting chapter in your life and career. Be the heroic leader you really want to be!

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