Lessons in leadership

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 20 June 2008



Nolan, S. (2008), "Lessons in leadership", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 7 No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1108/shr.2008.37207daa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Lessons in leadership

Article Type: Editorial From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 7, Issue 4

The theme of this issue of Strategic HR Review is leadership. Our authors have approached this topic from very different angles providing a broad overview of just some of the issues pertinent to leadership today. This ranges from an exploration of leadership learning, how it can support organizational change and how to more closely link it to organizational priorities; to a look at talent management, in terms of maintaining a pipeline of leadership talent and creating a talent-minded organization; and concluding with a study of how one complex organization has successfully repositioned HR in a leadership role so that it can better support the needs of the business and operational managers.

In “Leadership learning – key to organizational transformation,” Sharon Varney combines research from Roffey Park on learning in complex organizations with a case study of a successful leadership development program at a global player in the offshore oil and gas industry to discuss a model for leadership learning that supports organizational change. By discussing the six conditions that were identified in the research as influencing transformational learning and using them to analyze the case history, Varney highlights some seemingly small actions that can have a huge influence on the outcomes of a leadership learning program in complex and changing environments. A key point for HR practitioners to take on board is the need to take a dynamic approach and to avoid setting learning practices in stone – even for the duration of a learning program.

Dr Valerie Anderson, the lead researcher for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Value of Learning project, reports on findings of the research in her article “View from the top: executive perceptions of the value of learning.” The aim of the research was to explore the extent to which senior HR professionals’ perceptions of the strategic value of learning are aligned to those of senior operational managers. While senior decision makers recognize the strategic value of learning, the research identified a need for greater dialogue between an organization’s leaders and its HR professionals in order to align learning strategy to organizational priorities. Measurement and assessment can improve the quality of this dialogue, with emerging assessment techniques proving to be a useful in measuring the strategic value of learning.

In “Leadership succession: an approach to filling the pipeline,” by James Brant, Rebecca Dooley and Stephen Iman, the focus is on succession planning and maintaining the leadership pipeline. A literature review shows that internal promotion can offer efficiencies over external promotion. However, identifying and developing this talent to ensure continuity of leadership does pose problems for senior and HR executives. In this article the authors discuss a case of an organization that completely redesigned its systems for internal leadership development and the associated processes and steps offer a useful basis for discussion of how to implement or improve leadership succession management.

Peter Cheese tackles the issue of building and maintaining an organization’s talent power in his article, “Driving high performance in the talent-powered organization.” He believes that in today’s business environment of expanding diversity, change and contrast, talent is the key to strategic success, however it is increasingly hard to manage. In order to be a success, talent management should look beyond the top layers of the organization and become an organization-wide issue – it is not just about the high potential talent, it is about building all the skills and capabilities that the organization needs to be a success. The goal, therefore, should be to create a company-wide talent mindset and culture and this means making talent management a priority for the leaders in the organization so that it is aligned to the business strategy and has full backing and support. He gives examples of innovative and strategic approaches to talent management at a diverse range of organizations around the world.

In the article “HM Prison Service – business partnering inside,” Simon Constance discusses how the HR team was able to successfully lead a major HR transformation that placed the newly created HRBP role in a leadership position. Some of the factors that were key to the success of the program, which coincided with the implementation of a shared services model, include a clear strategy, an innovative approach to recruitment, an extensive development program, a staggered and well-managed rollout and clear communication to senior managers of the objectives and benefits of the HRBP role. HRBPs are given the support and the confidence to assert their position and to deal with their role as a key part of the prison leadership team. By moving HRBPs into a position where they can begin to deliver real outcomes, senior managers at the prison service have seen tangible examples of what is possible in terms of HR supporting the business.

Sara NolanE-mail: shr@emeraldinsight.com(Photograph by Chris Snelling)

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