A couple of weeks ago, the always outspoken John Sumser published a post at HRexaminer titled “Pummeling Equine Cadavers.” You probably missed it if for no other reason than the title doesn’t even hint at the really interesting points John makes in the piece. In it, he airs some frustrations around the idea of “thought leadership,” particularly within the HR space and challenges us to think about how change really happens when an industry desperately needs to evolve.
A few quotes in particular stood out to me:
Much of what passes for HR thought leadership involves little thought. It’s all smoke and no fire.
Self proclaimed HR thought leaders tend to be vacuous morons, incapable of sustained thought. There’s a code that I saw somewhere that says you can’t be one unless someone else says you are (without being asked to). Even that’s not good enough, really. The bluntest knife in the box has a mom who thinks he’s got HR Thought Leadership potential.
My question is simple. Is the power of a good example enough to change an industry? That is, are great recruiters or Hr pros who set an amazing example operating in a way that can change an industry. Or is something else required?
I think that the underlying point here is that talk is cheap. There is more talk about HR than ever in history thanks to social media and the blogosphere, and yet, it doesn’t appear that our rate of evolution as an industry has increased, at least not nearly as much as one would expect. This begs the question, should we be doing less talking and more doing?
One of the things I learned many years ago was a lesson I’ve summed up this way, “Ideas are cheap. Everyone has ideas. What is exceptional is the ability to take an idea and make it real. Execution is the real differentiator.” It would seem that John Sumser might even argue that not everyone has ideas and that perhaps I’m a bit optimistic in saying that.
Regardless, we both agree that at the very least we need less talk at the expense of action and more game changing examples to learn from. John asks an important question at the end of his post: is setting a great example enough to change an industry? My answer: Yes . . . and No. I do think that it is imperative that we have more teams and leaders out there setting great examples. And by great examples, I mean people who are breaking the rules and redefining how HR gets done in a way that drives business forward. This is so important because those setting the example prove it’s possible. And once it’s proven possible, it’s easier to rally the troops to go make it happen.
But, is example enough? No way. If HR is to survive, we have to bond together as a community of leaders, of warriors, fighting for our way of life. We have to not only strive to be the example, but to share that example with others and to seek out other’s examples to provide us with inspiration. We have to protect each other from making the same mistakes over and over again. We have to hold each other accountable to doing better business and being better examples.
It’s probably hypocritical for me to say “less talk, more doing” here in my blog as I add more noise to the discussion. But, then again, I’m no thought leader. At least, I hope not (regardless of what my mom thinks).