Ellie Filler, senior client partner at Korn Ferry, and the University of Michigan’s Professor Dave Ulrich performed proprietary assessments on C-Suite executives over more than a decade.
It was found that CHROs are increasingly reporting directly to the CEO, serving as their key advisers and making regular presentations to the board.
During their assessments, researchers focussed on three categories: leadership style, thinking style and emotional competency. Except for the COO, it was the CHROs who had the most overlap with the CEOs.
According to Ulrich, previous research has shown that as leaders move up in an organisation, their most likely areas of failure are an inability to manage individual talent and organisation culture – but most CHROs are already equipped with the skills to handle these issues.
“CHROs should be architects on talent and organisational issues,” Ulrich said. “If and when CHROs also master strategy, customer and finance, they could be candidates for a CEO role.”
However, Filler and Ulrich studied only top performers – so there is perhaps only a small percentage of HR professionals with CEO potential.
Recently conducted research has suggested that CHROs could be the best candidates for CEO in some organisations.