So often, I find businesses create their vision and value statements and leadership competency frameworks without reference to their people. The latest example I came across was a local authority that proudly showed off its work on drawing up six leadership competencies around which they were integrating key HR processes. Not one of these competencies referred to managing people. When I questioned them, the reply was that “it was a given that they had to manage people effectively.” Apparently, “everyone knows this,” and “it’s part of the culture.” Really?

Recently, I was part of a board that had to approve a new organisation strategy, complete with visions and values. Not one mention in the visions and values of the people of the organisation.  The discussion around the table was similar to the response above. However, in this instance I was able to insist and we added great people statements. When the new strategy was published, the people statements were a clear and resounding success. They were widely-discussed and applauded and the CEO received messages. People knew they mattered. 

One of my favourite mantras, which people who know me well hear often, is that “what people at the top notice is what gets done.” A vision statement that says something along the lines of “supporting and developing our people to deliver excellence with commitment and compassion” sends a clear message to all stakeholders. Additionally, it is an excellent principle around which to design leadership assessment and development. 

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Janice Caplan

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