Leadership Lessons from IBM’s CHRO Diane Gherson: Lead the Change

One of the most common questions Jane Harper gets at The HR Digest is: “How can I become a better HR leader?” Great leadership takes years of practice. A primary reason why it takes so long is that effective leadership traits require their own learning curve.

Diane Gherson is one of the most progressive leaders that can show you qualities that will keep you at the forefront of your work life. Her transformational leadership style serves as a model for many of today’s HR professionals who want to become a successful leader.

i. Leading Change

HR executives often underestimate the power of change. Great leadership constantly demands adaptability, which requires the willingness to embrace change, and finally, the ability to lead change.

Six years ago, Diane Gherson led IBM to undertake the most ambitious technology-enabled HR transformations in its 107-year history. This meant readying IBM’s 350,000 workforce for skills for the future and redesigning how they work and experience work to drive innovation and client engagement.


Diane Gherson, CHRO, IBM

As our April 2019 Cover Story on ’10 Most Powerful Leaders in HR’ points out, seven out of 10 IBMers now have skills of the future compared to three out of 10 when the transformation began.

ii. Vision

Vision is not an option, but a prerequisite for organizational success. The most effective leaders are able to influence others with their view. Without vision, even the most talented team can feel lost.

As a transformational leader, Diane Gherson demonstrates incredible vision and perseverance as she strives to materialize her vision. Her vision is so strong and compelling that it has inspired a generation of HR leaders to drive the HR technological revolution in their workplace.

iii. Continuous Learning

As one of the most renowned scientists of the Twentieth century, Albert Einstein, once said: “Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it”

Today’s workplace requires that HR leaders continually learn new strategies, processes, and technologies to create a culture of growth and competitiveness. Diane’s pursuit of knowledge allows her to make big leaps forward. At IBM, HR has contributed significant benefits to the business — $107 million last year alone.

There’s plenty you can learn from Diane Gherson’s success story that will help you understand to improve your own leadership effectiveness. No matter what stage you are in your career, you can find opportunities to hone these leadership skills.

Whether you want to stay up-to-date on HR news, read in-depth insights on HR trends or find new ideas on strategy, innovation, and leadership, The HR Digest Magazine is here to suit your needs and help you stay more informed.

Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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