A Case for HR to Drive Transformational Leadership


I have often thought how rewarding it would be for HR Manager and their team if tasked with providing more than hiring new talent and their induction.

If their responsibility could extend beyond these necessary tasks to company-wide leadership learning – aligned with business goals.

If extended to include these responsibilities HR Management would step forward from a transactional role to transformational leadership.


What is Transformational Leadership?

A transformational leaders work beyond maintaining day to day operations, to creating a higher performing environment, working collaboratively to accomplish change for the better. Transformational leaders inspire their workforce to higher performance levels while providing the necessary opportunities for professional growth required to drive change.


HR and Transformational Leadership.

There are many contributors to transformational leadership – today I suggest the following 4:

  1. Making the right hire;
  2. A comprehensive Induction Program to set the necessary parameters;
  3. A Company-Wide Professional Learning program focused on continuing growth ;
  4. Establishing goal congruence.


Consider these 4 steps:

  1. Making the right hire

First and foremost it’s essential to achieve the best match with hires. It is rare to have a perfect match. However, the selection process can look beyond competencies & salary and really add value to the business with each appointment. Consider candidates values, ambition, commitment, initiative, collaborative skills, and aspiration for leadership, clearly articulated career goals and a fit with cultural identity of your company.

You may argue that this already happens. And I’m sure it does in some instances.

Using competencies and salary are good indicators, but by engaging in a more robust selection process you will find a more authentic fit. This will add additional time to the selection process, but it will be well worth the investment of time if it reveals a long term employee willing to learn and grow with the company.

  1. Setting parameters through induction

Induction programs provide the opportunity to lay all cards on the table from a business perspective. Clear processes, protocols, responsibilities, learning opportunities and accountability processes for new employees can all be provided.

Induction programs can include such things as:

  • Administrative expectations, rules & regulations – especially with large multinational companies.
  • Channels of leadership, contact details and roles are all worthwhile information
  • Job Descriptions for new employee and direct reports.
  • Coaching or Mentoring program opportunities
  • Accountability processes – cyclical performance review schedules.

Induction programs set the standard of performance and professional expectations from the beginning of employment. If implemented successfully there can be little possibility for misunderstanding down the track.


  1. Establishing Company-Wide Professional Learning opportunities:

The opportunity for HR to offer professional learning opportunities throughout the year across the workforce is advantageous from a cost perspective but, more importantly, that Professional Learning can be tailored to the employees’ needs in relation to company goals as well as providing learning opportunities related to the employees’ professional goals.

For this to occur a strong foundation of trust is important along with good role modelling by leaders of engagement in professional learning themselves.


How can HR tailor the Professional Learning to the employee needs?

  • Development of Customised Development Plans

Customised Development Plans include SMART goals linked to Management & Company goals, the required professional learning needed to achieve the goals, and also the accountability component – expected outcome that can be demonstrated.

The plans can also include professional learning to stretch the employee, perhaps towards the next level of leadership, or skill development.

Individualising learning plans for employees will increase engagement in their own learning and a greater connection to the company.

Essential ingredients of these Plans are:

That they are tailored to individual needs whilst aligning with company goals.

That there is a willingness by the company to spend money to support learning opportunities.


  • Mentor and coaching opportunities to support ongoing individual learning;

Formal Company based coaching utilising in-house expertise has an enormous potential to improve motivation as well as skills.

Mentor programs while less focused on skill development provide great support to employees who need to talk through or get feedback on issues in the workplace.

  • Delegation of responsibilities to stretch employees for future growth;

It’s an unwise leader who thinks they are the only source of leadership. A good leader develops others to increasingly share leadership.

  • Work shadowing opportunities to provide growth opportunities for succession planning;

Formally identifying employees with potential for future leadership role and providing work shadowing opportunities with current leaders has enormous potential in skill development with many other benefits too.


  1. Establishing Goal Congruence

Goal congruence is demonstrated when there is a common understanding of company goals and a shared ownership in their achievement.

Goal congruence can be achieved when:

  • There is a degree of collaborative work in setting and evaluating company goals.
  • Customised Development Plans reflect individual learning requirements in relation to company goals
  • Roles and Responsibilities for all personnel reflect company direction towards achievement of goals.

If HR Managers are able to lead the 4 steps outlined above they will play an integral role in company success through transformational leadership.

Career Coaching, Inspiration, Leadership