7. 10 Years – 10 Truths

7: The CEO-CHRO Relationship Is a Company’s Dynamic Duo

In the seventh installment of my 10 Years – 10 Truths series, I reflect on the potential power of the CEO-CHRO relationship. I have repeatedly seen, that when this relationship is strong, amazing things happen, especially when a company is driving a strategic leap and leadership culture change.

Check out our Forbes article: The Most Important Hire a CEO Will Make – The CHRO

When I was a kid, my favorite TV show was the Batman series. In the show, they always referred to Batam and Robin as a dynamic duo, a term that has become part of our common language and I still see it used today.

A dynamic duo describes two individuals who create amazing results together when their unique strengths are combined to tackle a challenging situation.

It’s a term that also describes an observation I’ve made over the last ten years of helping companies scale leadership accountability.

There is a dynamic duo in most successful companies and it’s the relationship between the CEO and CHRO. Now a strong relationship between this duo is critical on most days.

But, absolutely essential for a company to make a strategic leap and transform the leadership culture. How do you know if the relationship is strong enough? Here’s what I’ve seen:

  1. Strategic Alignment. Both the CEO and CHRO have clarity on the future direction of the organization, the expectations of leaders, and what it’s going to take to get there.
  2. Open Communication. Transparent communication between the two ensures that there are no gaps in understanding or misaligned objectives. Moreover, I see a strong CHRO acting as a confidant and coach to the CEO. They have the courage to challenge and discuss the undiscussable with the CEO when necessary.
  3. Shared Accountability. In the best relationships, the CEO and CHRO are tied at the hip to each other. They set the tone of strong accountability for all other leaders. This in turn fosters trust, models collaboration, and builds the confidence of everyone in the organization.
  4. Have Each Other’s Back. This dynamic duo implicitly trusts one another and supports each other’s success.

I have also seen examples when the relationship is not strong. Two things contribute to this. First, the CEO has never experienced what a great CHRO is like. So, they end up having a limited view of the role which primarily focuses on having the HR leader lead transactional aspects of the role. Second, the CHRO just isn’t up to the task. They aren’t strong enough to support the CEO.

CEOs need CHROs to possess strategic vision, trusted advisory skills, culture-building prowess, and a data-driven mindset to drive an organization’s success.

What are your thoughts on this post? How would you assess the CEO-CHRO relationship in your organization?

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