KD’s view of HR Leadership is pretty simple. If you do great work, constantly attempt to get upstream in the HR value chain and make the people you report to and serve feel like you’re different than other HR people they’ve known in their career, you win.

Do those things, and you’re a leader in the field of HR.

But it’s harder than it looks.

KD’s got the background you would expect from anyone bold enough to have a website in his own name and a page covering his views on HR Leadership. He’s had big company HR roles at Charter Communications and Cingular (now AT&T Wireless). Once he checked that box, he downshifted in size and led HR functions in venture-backed technology firms at Source Medical and Daxko.

He got better along the way. But what he learned about HR Leadership early in his HR career has held true for 15 years – regardless of company size.

Do great work. Get upstream in the HR value chain. Make the people around you think you’re different than other HR people they’ve known.

Hit the sections below for KD’s playbook used by every great HR leader he knows:

The most important relationships HR leaders have is with their peers and the people they report to. That’s usually a C-level reporting relationship and functional area peers in Marketing, Sales, Finance, Customer Care, etc.

At least a couple of times a month, those people come to you with a tough people/talent-related issue they need help with.They usually know what they want. Average HR people say “no” a lot during these moments of truth. They cite risk, policy and more as justification for the “no”.

Kris believes the best HR leaders know how to say “yes” when that call for help comes. It’s not about being reckless, it’s about helping find a path to help leaders have what they need to be successful.

Saying yes doesn’t mean you take on risk. Often times, the “yes” is conditional on taking a path to mitigate risk – with the HR leaders help, of course.

KD believes saying “no” is stereotype HR has earned over time.  But he knows the best HR Leaders understand how to say “yes” and make people believe in them – and over time seek them out continually as the talent agents they are.

Average HR leaders make the buses run on time. Process is followed. Transactions are completed. Employee Relations and legal issues are worked through and dealt with.

Sound boring and unimaginative? You’re damn right it does. It’s also what 90% of HR functions are focused on.

Kris believes that great HR Leaders understand their HR practice doesn’t move forward unless they working on projects that provide BIG WINS. What represents a BIG WIN? That varies company by company, but all BIG WINS have one thing in common when it comes to great HR.

The work is done by the HR Leader/HR Pro in question. They can have partners and consultants, but the design and the innovative spark must come from the HR pro.

Of course, you can design and tweak projects representing BIG WINS for years. KD believes that the best HR Leaders know how to ship product – understanding that the concept of “good enough” is key. Great HR Leaders launch work related to BIG WINS before the work is perfect, understanding the value of shipping product and tweaking on the fly.  #hustle

Kris believes that HR is morphing into marketing. Whether you’re talking about employer brand/recruitment marketing, communications related to employee engagement or simply marketing the value HR provides to the organization, HR leaders have a growing need to be capable marketers.

That marketing skill is needed in multiple areas, including creative and analytics. The need for creative is found in areas like brand and design, but the analytical side is equally important – understanding the power of tools in every VP of Marketing’s portfolio like email marketing, social ad buys and more.

KD believes the best HR Leaders already understand marketing. They don’t have to do the work – but they have to understand the tools and lead HR teams in the crafting of strategic marketing plans for their HR practice.

Great HR Leaders are marketers. Average HR Leaders believe everyone gets the value they provide without marketing. Good luck with that.

KD founded Kinetix Buzz (a product line at Kinetix designed to provide employer brand and recruitment marketing services to clients) in 2011 as part of his belief that HR was morphing into marketing.


"The 9 Faces of HR"

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phil north

“This is a game changer! I'm only 5 chapters in and my entire paradigm of the world, business and yes even HR has been flipped on its head.”

Phil North, VP People at Handled.


Best Boss Ever is KD’s podcast dedicated to helping managers build great teams. Join KD as he explores how great managers of people attract, motivate, grow and retain talent – inspiring loyalty, serving as career agents for their direct reports and yes, becoming someone’s BEST BOSS EVER.

The HR Famous Podcast features long time HR Leaders (and friends) Kris Dunn, Jessica Lee and Tim Sackett getting together weekly to discuss the real-life issues and craziness HR leaders deal with daily. Get ready for laughter, real point of view and tools designed to help you survive and advance in your HR career.

Best Hire Ever is KD’s recruiting podcast that explores a simple truth – there’s nothing that drives success at your company like making a great hire. Join KD as he digs into the topic of hiring top talent with unbelievably talented corporate TA leaders, recruiters and candidates.