2023 marks my 20th year in HR search, and I find myself reflecting on the amazing conversations I’ve had with HR leaders over the years. One common and consistent theme is the obvious passion my network has for the development of their successors.

Do away with images of “cobblers’ children” immediately! I’m pleased to say that progressive HR leaders care deeply about their teams and have a natural leaning towards mentoring and developing future HR leaders. I’m not talking about formalised development plans and programmes, though these are important, of course. No, what I have learned and heard from you, the great HR leaders of my network, is that real value comes from talking to your team about YOU.

So much can be learned by you sharing your career story: your successes & failures, which events shaped you, which leaders made the biggest impact on you, and why. Real-life, authentic you and your experiences offer such incredible richness and opportunities for your teams to learn.

Offering insight into how you crafted your own approach, what has influenced your leadership style, how you have built relationships, and come to be the strategic executive that you are today are gems that are outside the realm of development programmes.

The other simple yet powerful lesson I have learned from the true HR mentors among you, is that as well as sharing your story, you make time to listen to theirs. In an ever-busy, digital world, it’s easy to feel unseen and unheard. By giving your team your precious time, you’re empowering them to share their story, and their experiences, and that, powerfully, provides a learning opportunity for both of you. It also engenders a culture of sharing which will be perpetuated as your team themselves become leaders: mentoring, listening, and sharing with their future successors.

My hope is that my musings on this topic will encourage you today to set aside a few hours in your schedule for September to start to share your wisdom with others, and to absorb theirs.

Matt Wallis
Search Partner