How the top 5% of HR leaders elevate their roles and drive significant impact

by Liam Martin
Top HR leaders

In a recent webinar hosted by Time Doctor, HR leaders and professionals were treated to an in-depth exploration of what sets the top 5% of HR leaders apart. During the session, Adam Weber, Chief Evangelist, 15Five, provided valuable insights into how HR can transition from a reactive to a proactive strategic function. Here’s a summary of the key takeaways from the webinar.

The passion behind choosing a career in HR

The webinar kicked off with Andy highlighting the deep-seated passion many HR professionals have for their field. He emphasized that the most successful HR leaders often start with a genuine desire to improve workplace culture and make a positive impact on people’s lives. This intrinsic motivation is a cornerstone for those who excel in HR, driving them to seek better ways to support their organizations continuously.

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The changing landscape of HR

The landscape of HR has evolved dramatically over the past decade. Once seen primarily as a support function, HR is now at the forefront of addressing complex issues like economic uncertainty, compensation transparency, and mental health. Despite these expanding responsibilities, HR budgets have remained relatively static, leading to a significant challenge: doing more with less.

Addressing HR challenges: Navigating burnout

One of the most pressing issues discussed was the high burnout rate among HR professionals. With 98% reporting burnout, it’s clear that the increased workload and pressure to perform are taking their toll. However, the webinar also highlighted strategies to navigate these challenges successfully. The key lies in aligning HR initiatives with the company’s strategic goals and speaking the language of the business.

Secrets of the top 5% of HR leaders

Andy and the team revealed five crucial secrets that distinguish top HR leaders:

  • Speak the language of the business Top HR leaders avoid jargon and instead communicate in terms familiar to executives. They understand and articulate the company’s top priorities, ensuring their HR strategies align with broader business goals.
  • Build HR strategy aligned with business priorities Successful HR leaders focus on aligning their strategies with the primary business objectives, such as reducing customer churn or increasing employee engagement. This alignment helps secure executive buy-in and demonstrates the direct impact of HR initiatives on the business.
  • Use data to drive decisions In today’s data-driven world, gut feelings are no longer sufficient. Top HR leaders use metrics and data to back up their initiatives, making compelling cases for change and proving the value of their strategies.
  • Activate managers. HR leaders recognize the critical role managers play in operationalizing HR initiatives. By equipping managers with the necessary tools and training, HR can ensure effective implementation and drive team engagement.
  • Instill belief across the company. Building and maintaining belief in HR initiatives across the organization is essential. This involves communicating the impact and success stories, reinforcing the value of HR’s work, and fostering a supportive company culture.

Transitioning from reactive to proactive HR

A significant theme throughout the webinar was the shift from reactive to proactive HR. This transition involves moving away from constant firefighting and towards strategic planning and foresight. By leveraging data and focusing on proactive strategies, HR leaders can better support their organizations and drive sustainable success.

How to pitch HR ideas to executives

Pitching ideas to executives can be daunting, but the webinar provided a clear framework to improve success rates. Confidence, clarity, and alignment with business goals are crucial. HR leaders should also be prepared to handle rejection constructively, using it as an opportunity to refine their ideas and better understand executive perspectives.


The “5 Secrets of the Top 5% of Strategic HR Leaders” webinar was a treasure trove of insights and practical advice for HR professionals. By speaking the language of the business, aligning HR strategies with company priorities, using data effectively, activating managers, and instilling belief across the organization, HR leaders can elevate their role and drive significant business impact. As the landscape of HR continues to evolve, these strategies will be vital in navigating the challenges and opportunities ahead.

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