Adam Coleman

Adam Coleman is CEO and owner of HRLocker a cloud HR Platform that is built for companies in the tech, professional services and not for profit sector.

Adam has over 25 years’ experience in HR and recruitment with tech start-ups which included being one of the early hires as HR Manager at Esat Digifone /O2 Ireland, which grew from 5-800 employees and was sold to BT/O2 for 1 billion after 3 years. Adam now leads a team of 12 people and growing at HRLocker that is getting considerable traction and is live in 44 countries

Can leadership be taught? If so, how?

That is a big question, yes I believe leadership can be taught but in order for it to work the individual needs to be open to learn, this can be assessed through using lots of tools, we use a psychometric tool called Insights Discovery which gives us a really good understanding of the person’s preferences and learning styles and we use this as a base line.

When you are filling a leadership role in your organisation what qualities do you look for from candidates?

We have developed a competency/behavioural framework whereby no one gets hired unless they are deemed acceptable against these core 4 behaviours:  1. Flexibility, 2. Teamwork, 3. Initiative and Delivery, 4. Business Integrity. These essential behaviours have been developed in the company by the principles and the employees in the company. Each behaviour has a name, a definition and key behavioural indicators. These behaviours are used in recruitment and in our performance and employee engagement management. We then have other leadership behaviours that we include as part of the selection or promotional and development of these leaders.

If you had to leave your organisation for 1 year what would you ask of your team and what advice would you give them?

Everyone is tasked at HRLocker to develop their roles and to make it really easy for people to train someone up in their own role. This approach makes it easy for us to see who is promotion ready and makes it easy for us to fill in if people are out for periods of time. If I had to leave the organisation for a year my advice would be to have a one month handover but also to manage the business starting with using our behavioural framework and our management system as the starting block. Make sure that the company goals and objectives (KPIs) are realistic, and to ensure that everyone knows how their roles relate to the company goals. When managing situations, manage the processes and improve them and always remove personal emotions from any issues that are being dealt with.

What are you doing today to make sure your organisation will be relevant in 10 years time?

We are happy we are building HRLocker as a product and a company that meets what we call the “Workplace of the Future” We have commenced building what we call our V2 product to ensure our company is relevant for the next 10 years+ and this is working really well.

What leaders outside your own organisation do you admire and why?

  • Firstly the Greek Philosopher Socrates, in short he realised that he was very smart as he knew what he did not know and this made him quite smart!
  • Verne Harnish of “Scaling up” and “ The Rockafella Habits” fame
  • Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates,  his thoughts around radical transparency
  • Martin McGuinness (Sinn Fein) & David Irvine (Leader of the PUP) as both had the ability to change from being involved in paramilitary activity to becoming leaders of parliamentary parties.
  • Jack Welch of GE as his approach to changing businesses quickly and making them successful was/is very powerful
  • I know that this will be a popular person, Michael O’Leary, of Ryanair as he is a straight shooter who understands his domain really well.

All of the above provide me with different parts that makes up HRLocker’s preferred management style which is to develop a meritocracy where the best ideas prevail and decisions are not made based on seniority but on merit. We are working towards making the organisation into a company where radical transparency works.

What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?

Platos -“Apology of Socrates”

“Scaling up” by Verne Harnish

“The Founders Dilemmas” by Noam Wasserman

Ray Dalio Ted Talk –

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