HR Professionals And The Need For Awareness
In a day and age where HR professionals are increasingly finding their job roles limited to hiring, lay-offs and annual reviews, a new thought that is gaining ground is the need for building interpersonal awareness and agility so that they can enhance their role into organization builders.
Kevin Cashman, who has written several books including the famous ‘Leadership from the Inside Out’ holds the view that while organizational leaders and managers gain external skills, experience and knowledge of the industry as their careers grow, the same isn’t true for inner growth.
“What doesn’t often grow commensurately, except in world-class leaders, is awareness — interpersonal awareness, inner agility awareness, and so on. If we’re growing on the outside, we need to grow internally as well. We lead by virtue of who we are,” he says in a recent commentary on ‘Leading from within as an HR Professional.”
He argues that HR professionals, with the right coaching training, could become the best coaches in an organization that could help organizational leaders and managers reach their potential in becoming top-notch leaders, says Cashman adding that such resources can assist leaders in developing awareness to become holistic leaders.
HR professionals often end up taking over coaching roles, though they barely have the requisite training in coaching as an activity, often relying on mentoring or even counseling. Instead of developing awareness, they often end up providing solutions that creates person dependence, something that these professional try to circumvent through their process orientation on another level.
Therefore, Cashman argues that these professionals must, in addition to being experts in systems and HR processes, also train to become coaches, who as a rule never provide solutions, searching instead for options and that too operating in a facilitator mode, thus staving away any chance of dependence that employees might feel towards the person during future crises.
To become good coaches, the HR professionals also need to know their own inner strengths and weaknesses, Cashman says while quoting from a research conducted by Daniel Goleman, author of ‘Working with Emotional Intelligence’.
Goleman’s book says, “People who are self aware are also better performers. Presumably their self-awareness helps them in a process of continuous improvement. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses and approaching their work accordingly was a competence found in virtually every star performer in a study of several hundred professionals at companies including AT&T and 3M.”
Cashman comments, “The core is increasing interpersonal awareness and increasing personal mastery of what our strengths are and how we use them. We must identify vulnerabilities and determine which ones we’re going to work on and which we’re going to work around by finding people to add to our team that complement our skills.
He goes on to add that HR professionals need to improve their listening skills to increase their ability to influence and express in a way that connects them with others – a critical component to building relationships. “Powerful leadership is the intersection of stronger ‘I’ awareness and more connection with ‘we’—more awareness of others,” he says.
Highlighting the importance of learning agility, Cashman says that helping individuals to reflect on and understand their capabilities is a critical part of good leadership. This is where once again coaching comes in. Creating a corporate culture of coaching in real time provides leaders the tools of development, he adds.
This is the point at which organizations begin to create leverage in developing world-class leaders. “Even if you use external coaches to come in and complement and supplement internal coaching, if HR professionals are prepared to be great coaches, they could have a huge influence on developing world class leadership, he concludes.
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