Policy Development and Implementation Guide

Module 4: Leading Policy

The development of effective policy requires leadership at all levels and an understanding of the roles and skills required. Policy development is led by people with a range of skills and abilities. Leadership skills are important across a range of functions and roles within the First Nation. Policy development and implementation is one of those functions within a First Nation requiring strong leadership both at senior management and technical levels. Effective leadership skills include being a visionary, working with people to understand the vision but also being able to adapt the vision based on diverse perspectives, bringing together people with diverse perspectives, being self-aware of personal biases, treating people respectfully and recognizing people who share their perspectives. The attributes of leading with passion, strength and knowledge will help Administrators to develop policies that are understood within the First Nation and embraced by community members.

Senior Administrators take on the role of identifying the need to develop policy and leading the work in creating policy. Commonly, they will have the insight to connect the long-term vision with the day-to-day work. Administrators can identify the need for policies that support staff in implementing programs and services. On the other hand, the Senior Administrators may need assistance from program staff who are ‘experts’ on the issues and topics within their departments. Program staff will be instrumental in identifying and validating policy issues and supporting the research required to build the case for policy decisions and directions. Further, if technical staff feel confident in assisting with drafting policies, this will advance their capacity development and empower them to achieve success in their work roles.

When drafting policy, it is helpful to include Senior Administrators and staff from various departments or functional areas to achieve a holistic and integrated approach, and ensure that policies under development align with other policies, laws, and the First Nation’s Mission.

This Guide illustrates the diversity of skill sets that are important for effective policy development. Administrators leading policy development within their First Nations can use this list of skill sets to have discussions within the First Nation about opportunities for training and learning. In addition, it is important to look at who in the First Nation or in the community possesses any of these skills to support the work by Administrators in developing a specific policy. It is critical to build and recognize the skills of those involved in policy development, so that they may become effective as leaders in policy.

The following topics are covered in Module 4:

  • Exploring the role of leadership in effective policy development and implementation
  • Critical roles in policy development and implementation
  • Understanding skill sets required for effective policy development
  • Leadership practices apply to policy development and implementation.
  • It is important to understand who is leading each policy – from development through to implementation.
  • Vision – Leading means having a vision and sharing it with others.
  • Motivation – The leader knows how to motivate everyone else.
  • Serving – The leader is at the service of the team, and not the other way around.
  • Empathy – One of the basic qualities of any leader seeking success is perceiving emotions.

Exploring the role of leadership for effective policy development and implementation

Leadership practices apply to policy development and implementation. It is important to understand who is leading each policy – from development through to implementation. The key attributes or characteristics of ‘leaders’ are as follows:

  • Vision: Leading means having a vision and sharing it with others
  • Motivation: The leader knows how to motivate
  • Serving: The leader is at the service of the team, and not the other way around
  • Empathy: One of the basic qualities of any leader seeking success is emotional awareness

First Nation Case Study – Upper Nicola Band

UNB’s Leaders (Chief and Council) had the vision to opt into the development of firstly the FAL 2018, followed by the policies. It was the Senior Administrators and the UNB Finance Audit Committee (FAC) that created the four policies to assist with implementation of the FAL 2018. They also brought in the FMB representative. As a team, they worked through the policy development process with the best interests of the community in mind.

Critical roles in policy development and implementation

Leaders in First Nations communities, whether they are the Chief, Councillor, Band Administrator, Chief Financial Officer, Program Managers or Policy Analysts, all play critical roles in policy development and implementation. Their investment of time and money to develop policies pays off in the long run.

Once a First Nation’s Leaders and Administrators have policies to refer to, their jobs become easier, and they are able to concentrate their time on other areas, such as community development, economic development and program and service delivery.

There are various ways to encourage the involvement of Leaders and Administrators through the formation of task groups, policy committees and ad hoc working groups. These groups should comprise experts in the policy area, Leaders with interests and experience, and experts from another department or an external agency.

Understanding skill sets required for effective policy development

Effective policy development and implementation requires a range of skills and competencies. Recruiting individuals with the required skills helps facilitate the policy development process.

The core skill areas important for leading and managing effective policy include:

  • Analyzing and validating information
  • Being able to understand the big picture context while working on detail
  • Gathering facts and undertaking research
  • Understanding how to communicate information
  • Building relationships / interpersonal skills
  • Managing and synthesizing large amounts of information
  • Translating concepts into practical wording
  • Leading engagement and discussions regarding policy

Community policy scenario – interactive questions

The concepts in Module 4 address the role of leadership in policy development as well as the critical skills for leading and managing the policy development process. Leadership practices occur throughout an organization and by all those working in an organization. Each person in an organization is either leading people, processes, policies or programs. Leadership is understanding the organization’s goals and mobilizing people and resources to achieve those goals. In order to create policy that aligns with the vision and mission of a First Nation, leadership is needed to understand these connections.

To assist you in learning about the concepts presented, think about a policy needed, or a time when you developed policy, and provide responses to the questions below.

Download the interactive questions (Microsoft Word)

Policy Example
Topic / Subject:
Type of Policy:
Policy Leadership
Describe the role that community’s leadership played in the policy development process.
How was leadership demonstrated in the policy development process?
Skills and Competencies
Describe the skill sets used in the creation of the policy.
Were there gaps in the skills used in the policy development process? If yes, identify them.
Are there plans for enhancing policy development skills? If yes, describe them.
What are the key principles guiding this policy development?
How can these principles be addressed in the policy?