“This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
These words by Alan Watts cannot be more true. Given the present-day scenario, business and HR leaders discuss HR management strategies to define a better workplace culture.
Moreover, with a major percentage of the workforce population comprising of millennials, ideas for HR management strategies are ever evolving.
This brings another set of challenges on how to get the entire workforce to a maximum efficiency? This is where the best HR leaders of the world come into the picture. One such big name from this list is that of Dave Ulrich.
Dave is one of the greatest visionaries of the modern HR practices. He is the Rensis Likert Professor of Business at the Ross School, University of Michigan and a partner at the RBL Group, a consulting firm focused on helping organizations and leaders deliver value.
Dave has shaped the HR profession and is called the “father of modern HR” and “HR thought leader of the decade”. He has grand ideas that can and have been changing the face of the top organizations for over 35 years now.
He edited Human Resource Management 1990-1999 and served on the editorial board of 4 Journals, on the Board of Directors for Herman Miller (16 years) and Board of Trustees at Southern Virginia University.
Also, he has spoken to large audiences in 90 countries; performed workshops for over half of the Fortune 200; coached successful business leaders, and is a Fellow in the National Academy of Human Resources.
He believes in continually learning, turning complex ideas into simple solutions. He wants to create real value in the field of leadership with successful HR management strategies.
Recently, we had the opportunity to have a conversation with Dave. He is too humble for a person of his stature.
Dave's contributions in business leadership and HR
Even after being ranked as the #1 management guru by Business Week, profiled by Fast Company as one of the world’s top 10 creative people in business, a top 5 coach in Forbes, and recognized on Thinkers50 as one of the world’s leading business thinkers, he is one of the most modest leaders you’ll ever meet.
According to people who have worked closely with him, “Dave Ulrich is a verb. He is a phenomenal presenter. With his thought-leading knowledge, kindness, and powerful, cutting-edge HR insights, he is the man to look to for impact.
Ask him if it has been tough to stick by these values and qualities, especially during times when values were being trampled upon because of enhanced technology, competition, etc., Dave says,
“My experience is that when I publicly and quietly live my values, others will respect them. Some of those I know vacillate about their values, so others are not sure how to treat them.
I hope I build on my parents’ values of service, gratitude, and charity by adding learning and creating value for others. I hope that my commitment to keep learning about how to create value for others will keep me fresh and vital.
More about organisational culture and HR leadership
Dave has published over 200 articles and book chapters and over 30 books. He has influenced thinking about organizations by defining organizations as bundles of capabilities (Organization Capability) and worked to delineate capabilities of learning (Learning Organization Capability), collaboration (Boundaryless Organization), talent management (Why of Work), and culture change (GE Workout).
He has articulated the basics of effective leadership (Leadership Code), connected leadership with customers (Leadership Brand), shown the impact of leadership on investors and market value (Leadership Capital Index), and synthesized ways to ensure that leadership aspirations turn into actions (Leadership Sustainability).
Dave’s current work on creating a market-oriented ecosystem (MOE) reshapes how to define, transform, and lead today’s modern organization (Reinventing the Organization). He was conferred with “Lifetime Leadership Award” from the Leadership Forum at Silver Bay. According to him,
“Culture is not just about what a company believes and values as historical norms, but about making sure that promises made to customers are realized by employees.
When customers gain value from their relationship with the firm, organisation growth and employee well being is certain. Directing employee values to create value for customers helps both customers who get the right product and services and employees who make a difference.”
He believes the most important thing that business and HR leaders can give an employee is an organization that wins in the marketplace. When employee relationships, rewards, meaning, and opportunities lead to marketplace success, there is a virtuous spiral with employees, organizations, customers, and investors.
He is the "#1 most influential person in HR of the decade" by HR Magazine. He is one of 21 people in the Thinker's Fifty Hall of Fame. Talking to him about HR management strategies is always full of great insights.
His vision focuses leadership less on what a leader knows and does and more about the results a leader delivers. He has talked about how leaders inside can create value for customers (see work on Leadership Brand) and value for investors (see work on Leadership Capital Index).
Leaders who create value for these stakeholders need to be authentic, emotionally intelligent, resilient, and able to navigate paradox. He and his colleagues have always focused on HR outcomes, governance, competencies, and practices.
As anyone who has started a company knows, when you smell an opportunity, you get a little transfixed by it. You can barely think of anything else. How do you manage to continue to make progress against your competition?
Dave believes, he would rather NOT focus on competitor, but collaboration. “In the world of ideas, when we work together, we learn and multiple our impact.
So, I have co authored all but 2 of my books so that I can learn from my amazing co authors. I am blessed to have incredible colleagues who have informed my thinking.”
The future of workplace culture
We often wonder if there is anything lying ahead that is scary as well as exciting in terms of work culture. Dave says,
“In a world of technology, I am excited to find ways to scale ideas. I hope we can discover ways to create organization, talent, leadership, and HR guidance that informs choices. My partners and I are working on making these ideas happen."
We can only sense the enthusiasm in him, and no fear or inhibition, for any advancement that may come. But what about the new age start-up leaders racing towards the finishing line?
The competition is cut throat, and nobody wants to to rest. Everybody is looking for successful HR management strategies.
Dave has a different message to convey to these enthusiastic runners, “Run with patience … run means to anticipate opportunity, take risks, move quickly, adapt, change. Patience means learning, navigating paradox, serving, and working to help others in the process.”
Family and beliefs
But as it is, every value, every achievement has its roots starting from the family itself. When asked about some of the qualities that he attributes to his family that later shaped his career, he says,
“Like many others, I had great parents. They taught me the values of service and gratitude.
My dad did bread runs for 20 years after he retired. He would pick up day old bread, fruit, and vegetables from large stores and distribute the food to shelters throughout the city.
My mom still sends me thank you notes of gratitude even if we just have her for dinner. I am lucky that my wife continues the values of service and gratitude with faith and charity. She donates time and resources to helping others.”
The road to success is ever evolving and extending. There is no set meaning to what the term ‘success’ stands for in reality, standing different for different individuals.
Dave believes the same. He is one of the top influencers of the world. His discussions on HR management strategies, leadership, and organization communities are inspiring.
Guiding light for a number of top fortune companies, Dave isn’t ready to stop even after 35+ years of spreading the magic. He believes, bringing the fields of firm valuation, marketing, and leadership together, comes with learning, collaboration, change, and innovation in organization design.
His words, “Patience means learning, serving, and working to help others in the process”, are to stick by. He continues to believe that “the best is yet to come.”