done in overly simplistic ways based
on organizational unit or job grade.
People-centered leadership features
customized communications and
benefit programs that are relevant to
different types of people based on
their personal concerns.
3. Serving the Whole Person:
A proper emphasis on people
encompasses all aspects of people’s
lives, not just work. This is more
than work/life balance; it’s about
one’s whole life. Much of what
organizations do operates against
people, families and personal
development outside of work.
4. Empowerment: Management
experts have long advocated the
value of empowering employees. In
the past, empowerment has been
promulgated because it is a way
to increase employee satisfaction.
Today, empowerment is a necessity
because employees have access to
information and technologies that
5. Human Connections: The
extension of employee insight into
human social networks at work
leads to an emphasis on workplace
community and culture. People want
the workplace to be a meaningful
community for personal relationships.
6. Organization and Society:
Particularly in today’s political
environment, organizations must
advance the general well-being
of society and the environment.
This requires a connection to local
communities and an understanding
of how the organization affects
people and social elements.
7. Real Human Resources:
Much of what a human resources
department does is designed to
protect companies from employees.
Even the phrase “human resources”
implies that the people are a
resource for the benefit of the firm.
People-orientated leaders must create
employee service departments to
advance and enrich people’s lives.
8. Organize for People, Not
Functions: Most organizations
arrange themselves around functions
and place people into units based on
what they do. Instead, they should
embrace alternative arrangements
based on people.
9. Measuring People’s Well-being:
Organizations use all sorts of metrics
to evaluate employees. Those metrics
generally are about what the
employee does for the company.
People-orientated leaders should
establish metrics that also measure
what the organization does for the
This article was adapted from the November 2009
white paper, “Leadership and the Performance of
People in Organizations: Enriching Employees and
Connecting People,” published by the Forum for
People Performance Management and Measurement,
a research center within the Medill School of
Journalism’s Integrated Marketing Communications
graduate program at Northwestern University. The
original white paper may be accessed at: