Top 07 Key Skills of Future HR Leaders

By collaborating with leaders and teams outside HR, up-skilling, and cross-skilling across domains, and fostering a cultural fabric that boosts the impact of teamwork over individual achievements, the future HR leader can reignite the latent potential of the workforce.

Human resources originally evolved out of a personnel based function rooted in administrative and compliance-driven tasks that historically haven’t been perceived as adding value to organizations in the same way that sales, marketing or engineering do.

However, the role of the HR professional has changed dramatically along with the workforce and economy, and that evolution will continue as machines and technology replace tasks once performed by humans. HR or HR professionals in order to remain relevant, must break from its traditional functions and should move towards partnering in strategy building and execution and work as an agent of change and transformation.

In a constantly changing world, let us explore the key skills an HR Leader must posses for establishing HR as a strategic business partner in the organization.

Business & Financial Acumen

This will remain the hottest of all HR skills of the future. It is established that HR professionals need to know and contribute to the vision, mission, and financial success of the business. Beyond knowing how to read a profit and loss statement, effective HR leaders now need a strong grasp of their organizations’ business model and market strategy, industry dynamics and competitive landscape, and how all those components impact human capital–from hiring and performance to diversity and inclusion. What’s more, HR leaders will need to develop adaptable people strategies that can evolve with the business.

Digital Mindset

Artificial intelligence, bots, blockchain, automation, and technology are rapidly transforming the HR ecosystem. But that’s no guarantee they’ll all be adopted, let alone implemented properly. Indeed, separating hype from substance and finding effective ways to harness emerging technologies in order to execute an effective people strategy is now a vital skill.

Data & Analytics

One of the most significant shifts in the field over recent years is the focus on data. Modern HR leaders have growing access to enormous amounts of data on recruitment, retention, performance, productivity, employee satisfaction, and more. Being able to understand and analyze human capital data gives the HR Leaders a distinct advantage. The ability to gather, evaluate, and interpret the data to drive their strategy is very important.

Emotional Intelligence

The world of work is already experiencing turbulence and going through a disruptive phase, and no one yet knows where the path leads. However, what we do know is that this disruption brings with itself opportunities galore. What lacks is clarity, and that missing piece triggers fear, anxiety, and stress among the workforce, which becomes an additional situation to manage. The rising job insecurities among employees and the resulting fear of financial instability is a trigger for an unhealthy and unproductive work environment. Leaders need to prioritize building their emotional intelligence to combat such man-made worries and not only redirect the energy of the people but also identify and acknowledge their concerns and offer new-age solutions to their diverse set of problems. Some basics to guide in this skill include – effective listening, making open communication a priority, valuing ideas, and empowering employees in their journey.


Any effective leader who represents and manages employees needs great communication skills. But skill with narratives that can influence and engage people–both inside and outside the organization–will be even more vital in the future. As human resources become an ever more public-facing function, HR leaders will need to be able to articulate an organization’s value propositions as an employer, not just as a company that sells a product or service. And being able to connect with a broad range of audiences through compelling stories is the key.

Risk-Taking Ability

The term VUCA has been in existence for quite some time now. And to lead the workforce in such volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous times, HR needs to gear up and be willing to take calculated risks to sail through the disruption, by building an internal ability to take chances, be brave enough to voice contrary opinions, experiment, fail fast, learn, improvise and try again. By embracing change, continuously learning, and not being afraid to experiment, HR leaders can elevate not just their role, but also their impact.

Collaborative Skill

An absolute non-negotiable to become a future-ready HR leader is to have collaborative skills. HR as a function no longer works in isolation on just performance management, talent acquisition, employee engagement. Today HR is very much a critical component of ensuring smooth day-to-day functioning of the organization as well as being a strong decision-maker for people and organization related matters. By collaborating with leaders and teams outside HR, up-skilling, and cross-skilling across domains, and fostering a cultural fabric that boosts the impact of teamwork over individual achievements, the future HR leader can reignite the latent potential of the workforce.

Curiosity and learning will keep HR moving forward. Human traits like creativity, empathy, and compassion are needed to convert ideas into tangible valuables. These are qualities that can’t be replicated by technology. HR practitioners who can bring these human traits to bear at their organizations are set-up well for success in the future of HR.

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