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What do your employees want from you?


Dr Cleve Stevens, a leadership consultant to CEOs in the Fortune 500, details four key things employees need from leaders.

Writing on the HBR.org Blog Network Stevens expresses his belief that transformational leaders have the ability to challenge their people to grow professionally, personally, emotionally and intellectually.

He explains: "The traditional or transactional leader says, 'I'm the leader – you're the follower; I have something you need (money) and you have something I need (labour). So let's make an exchange.' Transformational leaders… understand that there is something bigger at stake."


Expanding on the role of the transformational leader, Stevens reveals the four "non-negotiable human needs" that must be met in a successful organisation…

First: the need for employees to love and be loved. Defining 'love' in this context as "focused concern and action directed at another exclusively for that person's good", Stevens insists that the transformational leader "vividly understands that tough-minded caring is essential to leading and developing a powerful, fully expressed workforce".

Second: the need to grow. Stevens believes that "by creating a culture that allows our people (and ourselves) to grow, we are expanding our capacities as leaders, as employees, and as human beings".
Third: the need to contribute. Stevens says: "To feel fulfilled and empowered, employees must know they are contributing to the whole."

Fourth: the need for meaning. If our lives lack a sense of meaning and we are not engaged in some larger purpose, Stevens maintains that we cannot be completely satisfied, regardless of whatever else we might have.

Stevens concludes: "The transformational leader understands that satisfying all four of these needs may not be easy, but when they are being met in the day-to-day affairs of his or her people, something magnificent begins to emerge: people instinctively play a bigger game, and show up in a more passionate, creative, engaged and effective way."

Four Things Employees Need From Leaders
Cleve Stevens