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Über dieses Buch

This unique guide explores how senior HR executives can build strong working relationships with the CEO, other members of the executive team, and the board of directors. With case studies and interviews with HR professionals from a range of industries and locations, this is truly the first book of its kind.




In a sense, this book is the culmination of a series of conversations held with family, close friends, and colleagues over several decades about the ups and downs of my business career in human resources. The conversations included what I had learned and observed over 40 years. One of these conversations started quite a few years ago when a now good friend named Mike Johnson and I first met while sharing the speaker’s podium at an HR-themed conference in Istanbul, Turkey. Mike is a savvy business writer and consultant based in the United Kingdom who writes about the importance of organization talent.
Lance Wright

chapter 1. What CEOs Really Think about Most HR People and Why

Why start this book with a look at the relationship of HR with CEOs? The reason is very simple. The key to an HR professional earning, and keeping, “a seat at the table”—that venerated and almost mythic location in the C-Suite—is heavily dependent upon the relationship with the CEO. The board of directors, the other members of the executive team, and the employees in the organization will all look at the CEO and HR relationship to determine the value placed on the function.
Lance Wright

chapter 2. How to Earn a Seat at the Executive Table

In my opinion, a seat at the executive table has come to represent something that can be both physical and at the same time intangible. In other words, “a seat at the table” can mean an actual seat at a table that is usually an impressive piece of furniture in the C-Suite, or the boardroom, where strategic business discussions or decisions about the direction of the enterprise take place. And, “a seat at the table” can also mean the ability to influence and impact those important discussions and decisions. The path to earning a seat at the table will be unique for each individual. Some may find a place in the C-Suite late in their career, others earlier. Regardless of the unique path for an individual, there will likely be similarities in the skill sets of those who make it to the top positions in companies and organizations.
Lance Wright

chapter 3. You Have a Seat at the Table—Now What?

Congratulations. You occupy a seat at the executive table in the C-Suite.
Lance Wright

chapter 4. Know the Business Front to Back

If you’re a member of the C-Suite, there is no getting around the fact that you have to know your business from front to back. If you are the senior HR professional in the C-Suite, your knowledge of the business should be equal to that of the CEO and the other members of the executive team. Ideally, knowing the business from front to back is something you would have accomplished on the way to the C-Suite. Gaining this vital knowledge requires study and effort. But once it has been done, it places the senior HR professional in a position to operate much more effectively as an executive with responsibility for governing the entire business, not just heading HR.
Lance Wright

chapter 5. Helping the Executive Team with Its 4 Rs—Recruit, Reward, Retain, and Retire Talent

A basic message of this book is that HR professionals need to learn more about business, and get better at it, and business executives need to learn more about HR and get better at managing people. The senior HR professional in the C-Suite is the one who must play a pivotal role in assisting the CEO and other members of the executive team adopt a mindset in which human resource management is thought of as a critical business process. The influencing and facilitation skills needed by the senior HR executive to operate effectively in the C-Suite are put to best use by helping the CEO and the senior executive team embrace the concept that, as stewards of the enterprise, one of their core responsibilities is to actively participate in the human resource management business process and not “contract it out” to the HR department.
Lance Wright

chapter 6. Succession Planning—How to Be an Honest Talent Broker

One of the most important contributions a senior HR professional can make in the C-Suite is help ensure that discussions and decisions about who will move ahead in an organization are frank, open, and honest. This is particularly important when the position is at the senior level of the organization, including the executive team. While it is important that the right people are in the right jobs at all levels of an organization, the person who goes into a senior level job can often impact the strategic direction, operation, and success of the entire enterprise.
Lance Wright

chapter 7. Coaching the CEO and the Executive Team

The problem that confronts every organization is that no one is perfect—no one. This includes CEOs, top executives, and, yes, senior HR professionals. As result, there are occasions when the behavior or the performance of a member of the C-Suite may not be optimal or effective. In these instances, the executive in question is likely to benefit from the advice, counsel, and suggestions an objective but interested observer may give. This process is often known as “coaching.” The ultimate goal of any coaching effort is to improve the effectiveness of the other person in their current or future roles, especially if the role involves leadership of an organization. In my experience, effective coaching is a business skill that can be employed to enhance an executive’s s performance and assist other employees in the organization at all levels.
Lance Wright

chapter 8. Pros and Cons of Being the CEO’s “Trusted Advisor”

The phrase “a seat at the table” has long been the mantra expressed by many in HR as shorthand for the need and the desire to impact strategy and be a member of the executive team. However, another term is also used almost as often when describing a critical role the senior HR professional should play who earns a place in the C-Suite. The term is “trusted advisor.”
Lance Wright

chapter 9. Navigating Executive Team Wars

The term “team” usually results in most of us first thinking of an athletic team, whether baseball, football, cricket, or basketball. While seated in the arena or the stadium as spectators, we may applaud the cooperation and demonstration of skill on display as our team vanquishes the opposing forces, or on other occasions goes down in defeat while making what we may consider a valiant team effort.
Lance Wright

chapter 10. The Board, the C-Suite, and HR

When most HR professionals bemoan the lack of a “seat at the table” they are usually referring to the inability to impact the strategic decision making that takes place in the executive suite. There is no arguing that a seat at the table in the executive suite, of course, represents a very important role for HR. As we have discussed earlier in this book, the senior HR professional with a seat at the table in the C-Suite can play an absolutely critical role in increasing the effectiveness of the CEO and the other senior executives of the enterprise. The senior HR professional in the C-Suite with a seat at the table does this by helping to improve the senior executive team’s knowledge and understanding of effective human resource management.
Lance Wright


Any HR professional who hopes to earn a place in the C-Suite needs to face the reality that getting there will not be easy. The total number of places in the C-Suite is limited. And, in virtually all companies, the total number of seats in the C-Suite available to be occupied by a senior HR professional is likely to be just one, if any. The quest for a seat in the C-Suite is further complicated for HR professionals. HR has an image problem with many current and future business leaders that adds to the difficulty of earning a place in the senior leadership of an organization. Obviously, the negative opinions of HR must be overcome before a place in the C-Suite can be truly earned. Earning a seat in the C-Suite won’t be easy but it is not impossible. Getting there requires the right set of personal and business skills.
Lance Wright


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