December 12, 2013 / Ask Mariposa

Ask Mariposa | Becoming a T-shaped Leader

Danielle asks:   I was promoted about a year ago and am leading an HR team at a small but rapidly growing company.  My boss recently mentioned I need to broaden my perspective and skill set to be more effective, especially as we continue to grow.  I was surprised to hear this considering my role and background in HR.  What do I need to do?

Tawny Lees, COO of Mariposa, responds:

Great question!  Often times, depth of business expertise can lead to a promotion, but the skills required for leading at the next level change.  Effective HR leaders in rapidly growing companies possess a balance of both vertical and horizontal skills, referred to as being“T-shaped.”  The vertical piece refers to the depth of your specific functional business expertise (like Benefits/Comp/Recruiting, etc. for an HR Manager.)  The horizontal piece refers to your skills, experience or perspectives that help you contribute and collaborate across the company, outside of your particular area of expertise.  The combination of vertical and horizontal skills increases your ability to adapt and flex to change, and collaborate, which is key in environments which are constantly changing or require constant innovation.

T-SHAPEDAsk yourself:

  • What factors are impacting your business, thus driving change for HR?  Of those, which do you need to know more about?
  • Do you have prior experience that could lend an empathetic view, if not skills or abilities?  You might have knowledge or skills but may not have leveraged it in your role yet.
  • Can you participate in any committees or special projects to broaden horizontally?

T-shaped leadership is cultivated over time.  You might want to consider outside conferences, courses, travel or community projects while you build skills on the job.

Good luck, great question!

 

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December 11, 2013 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation / HR / Talent Management

2 Ways Empathy Can Help HR Drive Innovation

In most companies today, innovation is expected from all areas of an organization – including groups not traditionally known for driving innovation agendas, such as Human Resources. Success for HR and Talent Management leaders lies in opening up to new approaches for developing fresh ideas for difficult issues. Here are 2 ways that empathy – a key element of design thinking and one facet of our Breakthrough! model – can help HR & Talent Management leaders go from idea-to-innovation more quickly.

  • Empathy provides context for solutions. Too often, leaders of all types come up with an idea for a product, service or experience in isolation, then implement it. This approach fails to lead to innovation. Developing empathy through various methods of observation and interviewing puts HR leaders in their customer’s shoes, experiencing what they do and how they feel. Thus, HR leaders stand a better chance of developing solutions that work for the customer.
  • Empathy develops T-shaped HR leaders. HR leaders who develop an ability to empathize with their customers have both the vertical skills in human resources and are able to broaden their horizontal perspectives, leading to an ability to look at a problem from multiple dimensions.

For more information on empathy, download our Executive Guide to Design Thinking or join us at our NEW Using Design Thinking in HR & Talent Management workshop.

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