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HRMI 2019: Amy Edmondson tops list of influential thinkers

Last night HR magazine unveiled its Most Influential rankings for 2019 at Claridge's hotel

The HR Most Influential (HRMI) rankings, in partnership with LifeSight, recognise the HR practitioners and thinkers pushing people strategy forward. HR Most Influential is now in its 14th year.

Amy Edmondson, Novartis professor of leadership and management at Harvard Business School, took the coveted place of HR's Most Influential thinker.

Edmondson was commended for her work which “arrives at a time when many organisations and HR professionals are engaged in seeking to make their organisations more effective, inclusive, and empowered”, according to editor of HR magazine Jenny Roper, speaking at the event.

Commenting on her work on psychological safety, which earned her the top spot, Edmondson said: "People cannot flourish in a culture of fear... I stumbled into the concept of cultures of fear. It's my oldest work, but it's taken a long time to get it right. I found a stunning result, which was that high-performing teams in healthcare didn't make less mistakes, they made more. I was able to demonstrate that maybe it's not that they really make more mistakes; it's that they are more willing and able to talk about them."

Described as a “stalwart of our thinkers list” founder of Quality and Equality Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge came in at second place. Cheung-Judge remains in the top three having also been ranked 2018’s number one most influential thinker.

When collecting her award Cheung-Judge talked on her focus of organisational development, and stressed the importance of 'self' to HR practitioners' work. “As a troubleshooter for so many organisations, yes policy is important, structure is important, but we need to think that the most important thing we can do is to enable that 'self' to blossom... When we can do that we are all on to a winning formula, so go for it,” she said.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic was announced as this year's third most influential thinker. He said that it's important for the HR profession to retain a critical inquisitive approach to what it does, and to regularly challenge itself: “This speaks to the right spirit and attitudes of HR magazine. Unless you want to go down the route in the US where HR had been co-opted by the self-help industry, it's good to have self-criticism, which is what Britain has always been known to do well. Cynicism and the ability to not take yourself too seriously is at the heart of this. It's an honour to accept this award."

Having topped the HRMI thinkers list in 2017 and as a stalwart of the top five over recent years, professor of organisational psychology at Queen Mary University of London Rob Briner was recognised for his outstanding contribution to the profession as he was welcomed into the HRMI Hall of Fame.

Briner was praised for his tireless work ensuring practitioners understand evidence-based HR and how to embed it day to day, with the concept now included in the CIPD’s new Profession Map, launched in November 2018.

He said: "I'm not going to leave anyone alone until the idea [of evidence-based HR] gets a bit more traction. Over the next few years I'm planning to spend a little less time in the university and more time working with practitioners... It's truly an honour, thank you."

The top 30 thinkers are as follows:
1 Amy Edmondson Novartis professor of leadership and management Harvard Business School
2 Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge Founder Quality and Equality
3 Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic Professor of business psychology University College London and Columbia University
4 Adam Grant Saul P. Steinberg professor of management and professor of psychology Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
5 Matthew Taylor Chief executive RSA
6 Herminia Ibarra Charles Handy professor of organisational behaviour London Business School
7 Simon Sinek Speaker and consultant
8 Caroline Criado-Perez Author and campaigner
9 Perry Timms Founder and chief energy officer PTHR
10 Nilofer Merchant Author and speaker
11 Vlatka Hlupic Professor of leadership and organisational transformation Hult Ashridge
12 Gervase Bushe Professor of leadership and organization development Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University
13 Peter Cappelli George W Taylor professor of management and director of the Center for Human Resources Wharton University of Pennsylvania
14 Bruce Daisley Author and VP EMEA Twitter
15 Rob McCargow Director of artificial intelligence PwC UK
16 Peter Cheese Chief executive CIPD
17 Rachel Botsman Author
18 Wendy Hirsh Independent researcher and principal associate Institute for Employment Studies
19 David D’Souza Membership director CIPD
20 Josh Bersin Principal and founder Bersin by Deloitte
21 Megan Reitz Professor of leadership and dialogue Ashridge Executive Education
22 Stephen Bevan Head of HR research development Institute for Employment Studies
23 Patrick Lencioni Founder and president The Table Group
24 Chris Roebuck Organisational success advisor and visiting professor of transformational leadership Cass Business School
25 Linda Holbeche Adjunct professor Imperial College London
26 Patrick Wright Thomas C Vandiver bicentennial chair and professor University of South Carolina
27 John Amaechi Organisational psychologist and consultant Amaechi Performance Systems
28 James Traeger
Rob Warwick
Reader in management and organisational learning
University of Chichester
29 Simon Fanshawe Co-founder Stonewall
30 Susan Vinnicombe Professor of women and leadership Cranfield School of Management

Visit the HR Most Influential website for all our listed individuals and their profiles.