I have been researching best business practices for forty years. Most members of our People First International team hold advanced business degrees. Yet with all our studies on motivational strategies, would you believe that none of us has ever attended a lecture proclaiming the dignity and worth of people? Oh sure, people mention “the greatness of humanity” and drop clichés about “People are our greatest asset” in passing. But no one on our team ever sat in an MBA class or picked up a leadership book that began with a definition of what it means to be human as the axiom for human engagement.

I wrote such a book in 1997, titled Untapped Potential. The publisher, Thomas Nelson Inc., has a proud, 200-year history as one of the largest publishers of inspirational material in the world. My editor told me that Nelson had never—never—published a book about motivation and business development in which the author predicated his or her theory for sustainable success on a definition of what it means to be human. I had hoped that Untapped Potential would become the first of many books establishing this fundamental principle, but, to the best of my knowledge, it remains unique.

I wrote another book, People First, which continued to champion this people-centric philosophy. Then our team developed the People First Leadership program to help organizations turn these principles into the ultimate sustainable engagement strategy. Last year, in order to further advance this concept, I condensed my thoughts about what it means to be human into ten declarative statements. These propositions provide the source of ultimate engagement and people-based leadership.