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Putting People Over Process in Leadership

Hello! Let's dig into an interesting topic. - In leadership, the debate between adhering to process and prioritizing people is a central one. Increasingly, leaders are finding that a people-centric approach not only enhances workplace culture but also drives sustainable success. Here’s a comprehensive look at why modern leaders are choosing to put people over process, and how this approach plays out in practical, impactful ways.

Topics Covered Include...

  • Employee Participation and Value

  • Impact of Employee Engagement

  • Case Studies.

  • Balancing Empathy and Transparency

  • Strategic Advantages of People Over Process

  • Implementing a People-First Mentality in Software Development

"Providing an engine for your employees to voice their opinions on how to make work better and turn their ideas into action should be at the heart of every process improvement. Aside from them being your best sources of information, contributing to the larger conversation will also make them feel valued. They are more motivated to do their best when they see how their individual efforts contribute to the success of the organization. According to research by the American Psychological Association (APA), 93% of employees who reported feeling valued said that they are motivated to perform their best at work.
A well-designed process is one that sets its everyday users up for success. When the people behind the process succeed, it creates a ripple effect that provides long-term benefits to the company." - Hilary Corna (from LinkedIn)

Research & Case Studies of People-Centric Approaches

There is considerable research and several case studies across various industries that demonstrate the positive impacts of such an approach on organizational success, employee satisfaction, and productivity. Here are some key findings and examples:


  • Employee Engagement and Productivity: A Gallup study found that organizations with high employee engagement report 21% greater profitability. Engaged employees are more likely to be productive and contribute positively to the company’s goals.

  • Market Engagement: Research by the Harvard Business Review suggests that companies that invest in employee support and satisfaction tend to innovate more and capture greater market shares. This is particularly relevant in software development, where innovation is key to staying competitive.

  • Lower Turnover Rates: According to the Work Institute’s 2020 Retention Report, 75% of the causes of employee turnover are preventable, and one significant factor is the work environment, including the relationship with supervisors and team culture. A people-first approach can improve retention by creating a supportive work environment.

  • Improved Company Reputation: Companies known for their positive workplace culture and employee-first strategies often enjoy a better reputation, which can be critical for attracting top talent, especially in competitive fields like software development.

  • Case Studies from Leading Companies: Organizations like Google, SAS, and Salesforce have consistently ranked high on lists of the best places to work. They focus heavily on employee welfare, flexibility, and inclusivity, and they report high levels of productivity and profitability as a result.

While specific metrics can vary depending on the industry and the exact nature of the people-first strategies implemented, the general trend indicates that prioritizing the well-being and development of employees leads to better overall business outcomes. As an example considering software development teams, adapting these principles can lead to more innovative products, a more cohesive team environment, and an ability to adapt quickly to changing technological landscapes.

People-First Leadership:

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Understanding the Value of Compassion in Leadership

Compassion is a powerful tool in a leader's arsenal. It goes beyond mere empathy, offering a genuine intention to improve the well-being of others. This approach sees team members as whole individuals, not just parts of a corporate machine, especially crucial during crises or in the face of tough decisions.

Balancing Empathy and Transparency

The cornerstone of compassionate leadership lies in empathy and transparent communication. Whether it’s navigating through budget cuts, layoffs, or project changes, leaders must communicate with clarity and concern. The goal is to be honest about the situation while being mindful of how decisions affect team members, demonstrating that transparency and compassion are not mutually exclusive but rather complementary.

Making Tough Decisions with a Human Touch

Leaders often face scenarios where difficult decisions are unavoidable. Here, compassionate leadership means making such decisions with care—articulating the reasons, acknowledging the contributions of those involved, and emphasizing the long-term benefits for the team and organization. This method reduces bitterness and helps maintain dignity, reinforcing the idea that such decisions are made with the best interests at heart.

Empowering and Supporting Teams

True leadership involves supporting the personal and professional growth of team members. This might include offering flexible working conditions, recognizing unique contributions, or providing development opportunities. These actions encourage a culture where employees feel safe to express themselves and are motivated to perform at their best.

Leading by Example and Integrity

The most effective way to instill a compassionate culture is by example. Leaders who demonstrate genuine care and make tough, ethical decisions inspire their teams to adopt similar behaviors. This leadership style fosters a culture of integrity, resilience, and mutual respect, essential for navigating the complexities of modern business environments.

The Strategic Advantage of People Over Process

Focusing on people over processes offers numerous strategic advantages:

  • Trust and Engagement: By valuing employees’ well-being above procedural rigidity, leaders build a foundation of trust and engagement, driving higher productivity and loyalty.

  • Innovation and Creativity: A flexible, people-first approach allows for more creativity and innovation, as team members feel encouraged to experiment and express new ideas without fear of rigid constraints.

  • Adaptability and Resilience: Prioritizing people helps organizations respond more effectively to change and adversity, leading to greater organizational resilience.

  • Sustainable Success: Organizations achieve long-term success by investing in their people, leading to a cycle where employee satisfaction boosts customer satisfaction and overall business performance.

Implementation Considerations

Implementing a People-First Mentality in Strategic Planning for Software Development

In software development, especially when focusing on engagement and cost reduction, implementing a people-first mentality can significantly influence the success of business initiatives. Here's how leaders can integrate this approach into strategic planning and execution, ensuring that team welfare and business goals align harmoniously.

  • Inclusive Strategy Sessions Involve team members from various levels in the strategy development sessions. This inclusive approach ensures that different perspectives are considered, particularly those of the people who will be executing these strategies. Discussing initiatives like engagement boosting and cost reduction openly helps uncover innovative ideas and ensures that any strategies align with the team's capabilities and morale.

  • Transparent Decision-Making Keep the decision-making process transparent, especially when it involves changes that affect the team directly, such as shifts in project direction or resource allocation. Explain the reasons behind decisions, how they align with broader business goals, and what benefits they are expected to bring. This transparency helps build trust and understanding, reducing resistance and fostering a cooperative team environment.

  • Regular Feedback Loops Create a structure for regular feedback that allows team members to voice their thoughts on ongoing projects and strategies. This could be through regular meetings, anonymous surveys, or open forums. Feedback is crucial for adjusting strategies in real-time, ensuring they remain effective and considerate of team morale and workload.

  • Continuous Learning Opportunities Invest in the continuous professional development of your team. Offer learning opportunities that align with both the individual career goals of team members and the company's strategic objectives. For instance, if a strategy involves adopting new technologies to reduce costs, provide training sessions for these technologies. This approach ensures that team members feel supported in their roles and motivated by new challenges, boosting overall engagement.


In conclusion, while traditional leadership models emphasize processes and procedures, modern leadership recognizes the importance of putting people first. This approach not only enhances individual and organizational performance but also builds a more fulfilling and resilient workplace. As the business landscape continues to evolve, the leaders who thrive will be those who understand that the heart of leadership lies not in processes but in people.



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