What’s the most important quality in HR leaders?

Magda Lategan, VP of HR at Estée Lauder, outlines the role HR plays in the industry of beauty and its authenticity

Authenticity is one of the most important qualities in aspiring HR leaders, according to Magda Lategan, VP of HR Australia, New Zealand, South Africa at Estée Lauder Group of Companies.

“To me, you have to be real,” said Lategan in a recent interview with Inside HR. This ties into authenticity being one of the most important qualities for an aspiring HR leader.

“Sometimes people have a range of negative perceptions of HR, so I tell my team: ‘What you want to be is what you’ve got to present to people. Be very clear about what it is that you want to be.’”

Lategan said it’s also important to be authentic so people can trust you. “If people don’t trust you, then it doesn’t matter what you do, you won’t get anything out of them.”

Having vision as an HR leader is also important, as she said this helps in developing and conveying compelling stories within a business.

“You can have all the qualifications and technical skills in the world, but you’ve got to be able to understand where the business is going and communicate the dream of what this looks like,” she said.

“For example, at Estée Lauder, I am very clear in what my vision is and I engage my HR team with this and help align them with the bigger picture for the organisation.

“If people don’t trust you, then it doesn’t matter what you do, you won’t get anything out of them”

“I’m a visual kind of person; even if you’re not visual and more of a numbers person, I include numbers in my vision to make sure people understand very clearly what my dream is.”

Once HR team members engage with the vision, Lategan said she steps back and hands over responsibility to individual members for achieving their respective goals and elements of the strategy.

“I find that they will achieve the vision – maybe not in the same way I would have done it, but the end result is the same and that has been exciting for me to see,” she said.

“I think this has helped establish a brand for HR in our global organisation; I often think as HR professionals we don’t have a brand. We’ve got something very special so we’ve got to market what we’ve got.”