“Absorb what is useful, discard whatis useless and add what is specifically your own” – Bruce Lee Ihave always been fascinated by Kung-Fu – Shaolin Kung Fu to be precise. Shaolinphilosophy has a treasure trove of timeless principles that are relevant to allwalks of life, including HR leadership. TheCHRO of the future will be like a Shaolin warrior.
Agile, watchful and highly evolvedwith nimble reflexes, who can be tough as nails, and yet rooted in genuine compassionand a sincere respect for all. As we hurtle towards workspaces of the future,embracing and catalyzing change will be a career-critical skill. To create awinning culture, the CHRO must be a constant learner – proactively planning,de-risking the organization through skilling and technology programs, andfiercely nurturing a strong values-driven Company culture. Todo the above, Bruce Lee’s quote of ‘absorbing the useful’, ‘discarding theuseless’ and ‘adding what is your own’ becomes key. Absorbingthe Useful – the CHRO must stay tuned to industry updates and emergingtechnologies, and share important skills and knowledge with his/her team to trulycreate a scalable HR leadership department, which in turn will develop ‘nextpractices’ to fuel the organization’s vision into action and results. The CHROwill be a valued coach to the organization’s leadership, and a trusted confidanteand advisor to the CEO on all human capital matters.
Discardingthe Useless – the CHRO will champion innovation by encouraging automation, and simplifyprocesses that are arduous, costly to execute and repetitive. He/she will constantlyintrospect, discard legacy processes that have lost relevance, and remove whatis not needed – to keep the Company nimble and futuristic. AddWhat is Your Own – the CHRO will lead ‘bespoke’ signature programs that arecustomized scientifically to the organization’s unique needs. Instead ofvanilla off-the-shelf programs, the CHRO will carefully analyze internal data,evaluate industry practices and craft programs to enhance revenue, bettermargins, reduce costs, maximize employee engagement and enhance customerdelight.
Be it talent engagement tools for a multi-generational workforce, innovativehiring models, creative career development paths to mobilize hidden stars orbuilding business leaders for the future – each program will be tailored forrapid execution, and highly measurable results. “I fear not the man who has practiced10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”– Bruce LeeYetanother trait of the CHRO of Tomorrow will his/her focus on the power of’specialization’. While the CHRO will be a well-rounded professional in allaspects of HR, he/she will value the importance of specialists, instead oftrying to do everything using one’s own perceived capabilities. The CHRO of thefuture will be a networker par excellence – quickly bringing in specialists on-demandto create immediate positive impact in the shortest period to help businessgoals.
Simultaneously, the CHRO will leverage these experts to create scale andcareer pathing by establishing widespread learning and skilling opportunitiesfor all. “Exchanging blows generously, whichis not uncommon in some other martial arts, is unthinkable in Shaolinphilosophy, because a Shaolin disciple always assumes that an opponent iscompetent and able to inflict damage with just one blow.” – Wong Kiew Kit, Artof Shaolin Kung FuFinally,the CHRO of Tomorrow will be defined by a great strength of character. This byfar has been, and will continue to be the most important part of a CHRO’s role.Strength of character at work stems directly from the CHRO’s own individualpersonality and personal value system.
A CHRO must hold himself/herself to thehighest ideals of truth, mutual respect, inclusivity, excellence and dignity. Asin the quote above, the CHRO of tomorrow will never under-estimate thecompetence of other players in the eco-system in a rapidly changing businessenvironment. Instead, he/she will keep pushing the boundaries (be it in’digital thinking’ or breaking new grounds in ‘innovation’), and will actively buildrobust defense controls to safeguard business, while rapidly learning,evolving, and executing to stay future-ready.