All of your stereotypical HR Rockstars are typically pretty extroverted, kinetic, perpetually in-motion. I’m not saying HR Rockstars can’t be introverts, but most I know are loud and proud. If you are a recruiter, then the extrovert scale doubles (unless you are Jessica Lee from what I hear…who knew a kinetic introvert?) As an extroverted person, I am no exception to this, my team is no exception.
Now one thing I know about most extroverts is that they’re usually that way to cope with some sort of emotional need. A need to be liked, a need to be heard, and a need to compensate (overcompensate at times). Even the sales rep who only needs money is trying to meet an emotional need. Money equals success, status, recognition. Break it down to its core and the emotional need cycle is in all of us. This is not all bad. Extroversion can be a coping skill and coping skills are good.
Throughout my career I’ve felt great pride in my extroversion. It’s helped my ability to motivate and keep things going to produce results. Go bigger, go forward, go to grad school, go volunteer, go higher. Just go. If I can’t go: fake it. If I fail: ask everyone why, assess the data, probe, change and go again. Then enter Twitter, Social Media, HR 2.0 and I am in heaven; the going only gets faster.
Enter Paul McCartney, HR Employee Relations Manager.
My strategy above worked for a long time, but in my HR path I was far from a Rockstar until I learned one thing. To truly be an effectual HR leader, I had to let it be. The pendulum swung too far to one side; to correct I had to let things be.
Controlling variables has little to do with moving a modern organization and its employees. HR professionals think it is part of the job description to “fix” employees, control their variables, write their goals, and make them “go” execute our plan. We HR gurus can think a lot of ourselves, can’t we?
For example, I had an employee I pegged as an up-and-comer in need of developing. Factually speaking, she lacked a grace and intuitiveness which made her feel unauthentic to some co-workers. It didn’t affect her day-to-day job but fixing this could make her a superstar. I gave feedback, asked questions, wrote plans, role played until I was exhausted to no success. Out of frustration, I gave up and let her be. After about 4 months, she began to take the reigns on her own development. She found her own path, and on her terms, sought me out for help. I went from being a mother she didn’t want to being a mentor she sought. And, after this I had to question why I was taking on the burden of other people’s development, when they didn’t want my help or ask for it.
I have a poster of the Beatles Let It Be album in my office, and when an employee comes in complaining that someone ate their ice cream out of the freezer, I point to it and say…let it be. When an employee tells me their spouse is divorcing them and doesn’t know how they’ll get their work done, I point to it and say…today let it be.
So, HR rockstars, twitterites, and social media mavens-are you balanced? What are you doing to let it be? If your answer is nothing—you may not be the leader you think (yet).
Dawn Burke, Sr. Consultant for Recruiting Toolbox and founder/advisor for Dawn Burke HR, is an HR leader, speaker, and writer specializing in new HR practices, engagement and workplace culture. Her HR/recruiting/leadership career has spanned the last 20 years, with past gigs including a foundational role as VP of People for Birmingham, AL’s award-winning technology company, Daxko (And yes, Kris Dunn and Dawn are making Bham the HR capital of the world! Who knew?). You can also check her out at DawnHBurke.com and a variety of other interesting places. Google her, it’ll keep you posted on what she is up to.
Most importantly: She is addicted to TV, knows most of the lyrics to Hamilton and West Side Story, loves to cry at movies (check out Cinema Paradiso for a cry fest!), thinks wine, a wheel of Brie and Milk Duds make a well-balanced dinner, and sings in her car daily. Her husband and cat are the Yin to her Yang.