Human Resource Plans, Human Resources

What Are Attributes of a Great HR Director?

Human resource directors manage departmental functions and ensure the organization is in compliance with federal and state employment laws. Great HR directors develop strategy and drive implementation of HR activities that create employee engagement and improve the company’s profitability and success. Valuable qualities such as sound business principles, foresight and relationship-building skills are attributes that underlie the difference between effective and great HR leadership.


HR directors are forward-thinking visionaries focused on strategic development. Their vision often involves change management; therefore, they lay the groundwork for change through communication with leadership, peers and staff. They demonstrate an ability to conceptualize an HR strategic plan that aligns with organizational goals. They don’t stop at the mere conceptualization of an HR strategy. Great HR directors transform strategy into functionality by implementing carefully planned, gradual steps that ensure the vision comes to fruition.


Great HR directors sustain human capital growth through identifying ways for human resources to add value to the organization. For example, HR directors who can demonstrate that an investment in HR activities will produce a remarkable return on investment may be more successful in earning what many call a “seat at the table.” That seat is a place on the executive leadership team. Many executive leaders recognize the impact of HR; however, it just makes sense to see how HR affects the bottom line in measurable savings to the company. “Convert your HR results to dollars,” says human resources consultant John Sullivan in his October 2011 interview for an article titled “The Top Qualities and Characteristics of Great HR Leaders” by John Hollon, editorial vice president for


Highly principled leaders make highly effective HR directors. Their attention to compliance with labor and employment laws isn’t a mere perfunctory task. They ensure the organization’s compliance because it’s the right thing to do. Workplace diversity isn’t just a trendy phrase for HR directors with sound business principles. They are cognizant of the positive impact that mutual respect throughout a diverse workforce has on the organization and its corporate citizenship.


Credibility is an essential quality for the highest-ranking leader of an organization’s department responsible for building a strong, competent workforce. An HR director who establishes her credibility is better able to build collegial working relationships based on trust. Gaining the trust of employees, company leaders and HR staff is critical to developing an HR presence that unifies the company’s goals for success and individual employees’ goals for professional development.


HR has a dual role — both staff and leadership must believe that HR can balance its advocacy for the organization as well as its employees. It’s similar to an HR director’s ability to gain trust from the two groups. An exceptional HR director is capable of balancing her obligation to represent the company’s interest while doing what is best for the employee base. Successfully balancing the two roles can potentially reduce workplace conflict if both employees and leadership realize that the HR director’s commitment is evenly spread.