Dreaming the Future of HR #SHRM18

Earlier this week, I had the honor of addressing the largest gathering of HR professionals in history at the 2018 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition. The record-breaking attendance in Chicago signals that our profession is serious about transforming and elevating the work we do and the workforces we serve.

There has never been a better moment to be in our business—the business of people.

Why? Because CEOs and other organizational leaders finally get it. HR matters. We’re the ones who manage the people issues that erupt in the workplace, from pay equity to #MeToo. And we are the ones on the front lines of the war for talent. CEOs are telling me they don’t make a move now without talking to HR.

This is an exciting development for our profession, but it also comes with a certain amount of risk. This once-in-a-generation opportunity is ours to lose—or win. That is why it is so critical to elevate our profession—so we can rise to the coming challenges. We’ll be asked to innovate work in ways no one has thought of yet. And we will need to achieve expectations no one has placed on us yet.

I recently read a book by best-selling author Mark Batterson called Chasing the Lion. It’s based around the Biblical story of Benaiah who chased a lion into a pit, then jumped in after it to slay it. Benaiah ignored every instinct telling him to flee and went after the thing that should have scared him most.

Toward the end of the first chapter, the author made a statement that stuck with me: "If your dream doesn't scare you, it's too small."

As a profession, what’s our lion? What should we be dreaming of? HR is hungry for transformational ideas and leadership, and it is up to us to compose a vision of the future—a big dream that we can go after.

To build the inclusive workplaces and the skilled workforces our economy and our businesses need, we must set audacious goals for ourselves and our organizations and chase them courageously. And we must be ready to take some major risks.

I want to hear your dreams for yourselves and this profession. And as you catch and conquer them, I hope you will share them with me. Write to me at SHRMCEO@SHRM.org and tell me about how you chased your lion.

Did you take a risk that mattered to your employees? Did you set and reach an audacious goal? Did you chase something down, professionally, that scared you?

SHRM will be chasing some lions of our own too, with your help. We are on this journey together, and I am so humbled to come along as your CEO.

So, let’s dream big, and transform our profession and the world of work, together forward!


Johnny’s Opening General Session remarks can be found on the CEO Corner.


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: