The first core competency of great leadership is establishing a philosophical foundation, both personally and professionally. The underpinning of my People First® Leadership program is developing a unified philosophy—and the essential component of that philosophy is a belief about the exalted dignity, exalted worth, and exalted potential of all people.

I want to take just a moment to explain why I use the word “exalted” with regard to human dignity, human worth, and human potential. I’ve had friends and clients ask me questions like these: “Why is the word ‘exalted’ necessary? Can’t you just speak of the dignity, worth and potential of all people without adding ‘exalted?’”

Let’s begin by defining the term. Merriam-Webster offers these definitions of the word exalt:

  • To raise high:put in an eminent position
  • To raise especially in rank, dignity, wealth, power, or character
  • To elevate by praise or in estimation

It is my profound hope—perhaps I should call it my dream—that once we all see our fellow human beings as co-equals—all possessing the same exalted dignity, exalted worth, and exalted potential—that individuals, organizations, and governments will no longer treat people with such disrespect, devaluation, and dishonor.

I have seen a shift in the last decade with regard to many organizations developing engagement philosophies that reflect a greater degree of respect, value, and honor for their purpose partners. These companies have created certain values propositions in their ongoing efforts to create alignment with purpose partners and maintain a competitive advantage. They encourage their purpose partners to be conscious of those values and live them out in the workplace. One of the most popular of these value propositions is often referred to as a Customer Value Proposition. Recently some businesses have gone on to create an Employee Value Proposition. But these propositions lack the fundamental philosophical foundation that incorporates a definition of human dignity and worth.

The People First Human Value Proposition provides that foundation, one that reflects the exalted dignity, worth, and potential of all people. It should be added to the corporate lexicon and ultimately embedded in every family, civic, and corporate culture. To dismiss the transformational power of the Human Value Proposition as an engagement strategy and to allow other value propositions to eclipse its exalted worth is to miss a golden opportunity to fully unleash the untapped potential that lies within all of your purpose partners.

Many company leaders assert that “Our people are our greatest asset,” but fail to formally craft a written Human Value Proposition that is at least a foundational equivalent to their other corporate value propositions. These leaders’ success strategies are missing the most powerful tool for closing the engagement gap!