The Future of HR Leadership with Dr. Amy Dufrane

If Dr. Amy Dufrane’s name isn’t familiar to you, her work certainly is. Amy is the CEO of HRCI, the leading certification body for human resources. She’s on the frontline of our profession, helping us build skills, earn raises, and look over the horizon to see what the future of HR leadership will look like. She’s also a longtime listener of Punk Rock HR!

Amy joined Punk Rock HR to talk to me about the future of HR and HR leadership. As the pandemic begins to wind down, how can we become better leaders? What skills do we need to hone to make our organizations everything they should be? We discussed all that and more on this episode of Punk Rock HR. HR nerds, this one’s for you!

The Future of HR Is Already Here

I’ve been banging the drum for the future of work in my little corner of HR World for a long time now. And while there have been days where I’ve felt like I’m the opening act for a band no one’s ever heard of, Amy says that the future of work is already here. “It’s here,” she says. “It’s happening.”

The pandemic has accelerated certain trends, like the acceleration of AI and remote work. But to Amy and her team at HRCI, two skills will be demanded of HR leadership going forward, and neither involve a software suite. The first is agility. “We’re seeing the need for individuals to be more agile in what they do,” she says.

The second skill? It’s the soft ones. Being agile is one thing, but it will be necessary for HR leaders to harness empathy and understanding in the future. It’s a skill whose necessity has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. “I think that what we have learned over the past 18 months is this need for soft skills,” says Amy. “It’s emerging at an exponential pace.”

Leading in this Moment

We’re all a little tired right now — tired of the monotony, tired of Zoom, and somehow, we’re even tired of takeout. Amy noticed this sense of exhaustion herself in her interactions with HR leaders. “HR leaders themselves are really tired, because we worked at such an immense pace over the past 15 months,” she says. “There’s a lot of unique pressures that are being placed on HR.”

To counter this, Amy has a suggestion that may ring true for many of my longtime listeners: Be your own HR. “HR needs to focus on themselves first,” she says. “Because if you’re not healthy … then you can’t be present for those around you.” Doing so, she says, will not just help you feel better, but it will also help your organization. “CEOs need you. They need you now more than ever,” says Amy.

The Leadership Lessons Amy Has Learned

I’m in my corner, banging on my drum with a new message: Companies need HR more than ever. But many HR leaders have discovered something about themselves: they’re workers, too. And after the myriad of personal and professional challenges they’ve faced, many in a leadership capacity can empathize with line leaders and line managers a little bit differently.

For Amy, the biggest lessons she’s learned come back to agility and those soft skills. In fact, she points out that the ability to respond and pivot quickly doesn’t just have to do with larger business decisions. Sometimes, you need to make sure you have the ability to read where your team is — learning to laugh when a dog walks into the room or giving people grace with tech issues during a remote work session.

'HR needs to focus on themselves first. Because if you're not healthy and you're not present, then you can't be present for those around you.' ~ Dr. Amy Dufrane. Hear more on this episode of Punk Rock HR! Click To Tweet

People in This Episode