CHRO Global Leadership Board

Pillar 1: Becoming a World-Class CHRO

The first pillar involves defining the global standard for a world-class chief human resources officer (CHRO) or group HR director, with a focus on chief human resources officer competencies and how aspiring heads of HR are developed. Members of the CHRO Global Leadership Board have defined this standard, and current and former CEOs representing large-cap companies from across industries have reviewed it rigorously. The result is a model that can be used by HR leaders around the globe.

To learn more about the chief human resources officer competencies detailed, refer to the model and related resources below.

Model of a World-Class CHRO

Chart showing the activities required to become a world-class chief human resources officer and drive business results

About the model: The Model of a World-Class CHRO establishes a global standard for excellence in chief human resources officers (CHROs). The model is:

  • Aspirational: It defines what its authors see as the high-water mark of CHRO performance today and into the foreseeable future.
  • Applicable: Its relevance crosses industries, geographic regions and business cycles.

The authors envision this “open source” model serving as inspiration for the development of a number of resources in helping incumbent CHROs to improve performance, aspiring CHROs to develop more thoughtfully and rapidly, and CEOs and corporate boards to hold the CHRO to a high standard commensurate with the evolving expectations of this critical role.

Using the model: The Model of a World-Class CHRO is intentionally aspirational and represents the best demonstrated qualities of HR leaders. The CHRO Global Leadership Board recognizes that HR leaders may find it difficult to simultaneously excel at every component of the model. To navigate this challenge, the Board encourages CHROs to sit down and discuss with their CEO how they should prioritize the five core roles at the center of the model, based on the CEO’s priorities and the strategic position and direction of the business. The key point is that leading CHROs never ignore any of these roles, even if they disproportionately prioritize one or two in a given year.

CHRO Self-Diagnostic

The CHRO Self-Diagnostic allows current and aspiring heads of HR to evaluate their mastery of and the importance of activities core to the CHRO role. Upon completion of the survey, participants will immediately receive a personalized feedback report detailing their strengths, development opportunities, and next steps based on responses. Importantly, the recommendations and development guidance come directly from the experiences and expertise of CHRO Global Leadership Board members. 

If you are a current CHRO, this CHRO Diagnostic helps you:

  • Assess your mastery and relative importance of world-class CHRO activities
  • Prioritize HR activities and development opportunities based on your results
  • Align with your CEO on the role of the CHRO and your key development areas

If you are an aspiring CHRO, this CHRO Diagnostic helps you: 

  • Assess your mastery and relatice importance of world-class CHRO activities
  • Pinpoint where you should focus development to prepare for the CHRO role

Take the Diagnostic

White paper

For an in-depth look at the Model of a World-Class CHRO, download the white paper, “Becoming a World-Class CHRO: A Practitioner-Defined, CEO-Validated Model.” This white paper explores the purpose of the Model of a World-Class CHRO and provides detail on each component of the model, including tactical advice for implementing features of the model and guidance from members of the CHRO Global Leadership Board on their experiences of each of the roles.

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This webinar from May 23, 2018, was facilitated by three Board members who led development of the model and focuses on providing an overview of the model as well as highlighting CEO feedback, ways in which the model can be leveraged and support and resources on the horizon.

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Further guidance and resources

CHRO Competencies by Role

The members of the Board believe the following competencies are critical to the CHRO role:

Board’s Leader of Human Capital

Creator of Talent Strategy

Enterprise Change Leader

Driver of Culture and Purpose

Trusted Advisor and Coach


Ability to effectively and succinctly frame complex cost-benefit analyses to advise the board on major human capital decisions, recommending the best potential course of action

Business decision making

Ability to apply holistic understanding of the organizational business model, financial data and external trends to make effective decisions on the current and future talent needs of the business

Customer orientation

Ability to articulate the case for enterprise change in terms of the evolving expectations of the organization’s customers and the implications on the workforce

Cultural visioning

Ability to partner with the CEO and executive peers to craft both the organization’s unique purpose, based on the broader business strategy and social context, and a culture that will deliver on that purpose for customers

Emotional intelligence

Ability to identify areas of personal strength and weakness in own role and seek out diverse feedback and points of view to manage one’s own emotions and those of others

Proactivity/trend spotting

Ability to anticipate future human capital problems the board must address, develop mechanisms to surface and manage the problems in advance, and monitor for further action by the board

Evaluating key talent

Ability to continuously scout out, assess and recruit key talent from diverse sources to add to the leadership bench

Adaptive leadership

Ability to quickly and flexibly deploy HR resources to manage change across and sustain change momentum when issues arise

Personal role modeling

Ability to demonstrate the organizational culture through individual actions and interactions, casting a shadow that reflects how work should get done

Speak objectively

Ability to provide balanced and impartial counsel to senior leaders while maintaining strict confidentiality and unwavering ethics within a politicized work environment


Talent management expertise

Ability to stay current on and apply the most effective talent management techniques to solve to the organization’s human capital challenges

Motivational leadership

Ability to communicate a compelling/inspiring vision and clear goals to all employees in a transparent way, so they understand the complete rationale for change

Process design

Ability to harmonize HR processes to be consistent with organizational purpose and culture and influence leaders to align business processes with the culture


Ability to engage the board, CEO and peers on important, controversial issues and build a compelling case to change their minds when necessary

CHRO-Defining Moments by Role

The members of the Board identified the following critical moments in the career of a CHRO:

Board’s Leader of Human Capital

Creator of Talent Strategy

Enterprise Change Leader

Driver of Culture and Purpose

Trusted Advisor and Coach

Manage a CEO transition

Managing a major leadership transition, from the development of a succession process and the identification and development of successor candidates to the exit and onboarding of the new CEO

Drive executive decision making around a key trend affecting the enterprise

Proactively monitor macro and micro trends (e.g., changing nature of work or the workforce) and directly influence key business outcomes and resulting people decisions around rewards, talent development and talent acquisition

Design a strategy to enable an organization to implement the right structure for future business needs

Build an infrastructure that enables fundamental changes in the way work gets done in the organization to drive employee engagement and organizational performance

Crafting a new mission/vision/values

Leading work to establish a new mission, set of values or vision for the organization to better compete in the market after a large-scale integration, business transformation or leadership transition

Engage executives in critical dialogue on leadership needs

Engaging and influencing senior leaders and board members to think about the organization’s future leadership needs, using data-driven decision making to build a comprehensive succession plan that is used

Manage executives through a sensitive/ crisis situation

Managing a sensitive, high-risk event that jeopardizes the reputation and brand of the organization

Deliver capabilities for a business transformation or new business acquisition

Identify when a new business strategy requires a material shift in people strategy (i.e., turnaround, new market strategy) and then develop, design and implement the human capital plan that is needed to meet the business demands for capabilities in the right place and the right time

Leading a bold experiment

Seizing an opportunity for bold and courageous leadership, such as the launch of an innovation center or incubating a radically different business inside the enterprise to evolve talent and support growth

Leading a cultural transformation

Designing a long-term initiative to drive a turnaround of the culture and engagement across an organization

Courageously advocate a contrarian position with the CEO

Recognize significant business risks of CEO action or inaction on a human capital issue (e.g., firing a top performer) and respectfully but firmly advocate for the CEO to take his/her course of action

Lead independent board interactions

Engage board members in meetings and individual interactions alone on sensitive issues that require navigating tensions between the CEO and board (i.e., CEO performance conversations)


Implementing a large-scale change to compensation or benefits

Implement a new compensation and/or benefits strategy that carries significant workforce risk, such as shifting from defined benefits to a defined contribution plan or launching a voluntary separation program

Managing impact of digitalization on culture

Managing the organization through the pressures and demands of evolving workplace technologies such as artificial intelligence, social learning and big data analytics — and proactively anticipate the impact on culture and employee effectiveness