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Dreaming of moving into a CEO role? What CHROs need to advance



As an HR leader, you’ve become well-versed in formulating and executing people strategy – a good foundation for becoming a successful CEO. But it takes more than just leadership skills and keen strategic acumen to reach the top of an organization’s C-suite chain of command.

“You cannot be a CEO without business acumen. Unfortunately, you can be a CEO without people leadership. But the good CEOs, the great CEOs, have both. … You need to earn that followership … that comes though being able to rally the team,” commented Dawn Zier, the former CEO of Nutrisystem now serving as chair or a member on several boards of directors.

Zier shared her No. 1 piece of advice for aspiring CHROs in an episode of HRMorning‘s podcast, “Voices of HR,” titled “HR’s Critical Role in Leading a Company Through Transformation” – becoming literate (but not necessarily an expert) about business finance matters.

“You do need to be focused on goals that are financially oriented: revenue, profit, gross margin, costs, all those things. … What I like to tell people is don’t stay in your lane. You want to learn other parts of the organization. … Spend some time getting to know the key metrics in the supply chain area. … Make sure you sit down with your planning and analysis team or your CFO. … We’re all continuous learners and it’s important that … we own that ourselves as part of our career progression,” she said.

According to Zier, CHROs have a shot at being promoted to top executive of their current organization, but only if they have “a seat at the table” – meaning the CHRO is in the room when important decisions are made, and not treated solely as an administrator in charge of “people stuff.”

Keys to having an impact as CEO

Zier pointed to analytical thinking skills honed through an engineering education, as well as “an intentional focus on culture,” as the “it factors” of her leadership style, which led to Nutrisystem doubling its revenue and increasing profit sevenfold.

“I realize that my success is not my success on my own. It’s my success because of the team effort that was behind me and the team that I put in place to achieve things,” she said, noting that it’s important to hire cultural “enhancers.”

When asked to elaborate on what makes a cultural enhancer, she said, “It’s easy to build a culture of people that all look like you, that think like you, that share your values … but you also have to bring in people that are going to push the thinking to a different level, and are going to a create positive friction.”

She also encouraged HR pros serious about advancement to find a trusted mentor or coach in order to reach the next level.

Watch the full episode here.

Read the full article here