Here is an excerpt from article written by Cleve Stevens for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review Daily Alerts, please visit [email protected]
* * *
In 2000, Cox Communications’ Arizona branch hadn’t met a budget for three years, their P&L was in shambles and morale was in the cellar. Today, the branch models organizational effectiveness, and is the U.S.-based company’s largest and most successful region. A $1.6 billion operation blanketing the state, it is envy of cable systems industry-wide. What caused this dramatic change in success? All it took was a reevaluation of leadership style, and the profits followed.
Steve Rizley took over Cox Arizona at this pivotal time. A caring but tough, naturally gifted leader, Steve immediately went to work focusing on the people in his organization. In wise hands, this transformational style of leadership yielded staggering growth — like growing from $700 million to $1.3 billion, in little more than two years. So what’s at the heart of their version of leadership?
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 (labor). So let’s make an exchange.” Transformational leaders like Steve understand that there is something bigger at stake. He not only challenged his people to grow professionally, but also personally — emotionally and intellectually.
Within this new paradigm, there are four non-negotiable human needs that the transformational leader recognizes must be satisfied if he and his people are to succeed:
[Here are the first two.]
First, and arguably most important, is the need to love and be loved. It sounds touchy-feely, but people who are not both receiving and giving love — and by love I mean focused concern and action directed at another exclusively for that person’s good — cannot be fully healthy, biologically and psychologically. We usually think of love as beyond the pale in the work-a-day world, but the transformational leader vividly understands that tough-minded caring is essential to leading and developing a powerful, fully expressed workforce.
Second is the need to grow. The only alternative to growth is death and decay. The transformational leader recognizes that stasis, or maintenance, is a myth that only exists in the human imagination. Nowhere in nature do we find such a thing as stability. Even in a balanced ecosystem, there is either expansive, unfolding growth, or degeneration, decay and ultimately death. 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.
* * *
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. The consequences are difficult to argue with — hard, measurable, and in many instances, astonishing results.
* * *
To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review‘s Daily Alerts, please visit [email protected]
Cleve Stevens is a transformational leadership consultant to CEOs in the Fortune 500. He is founder and president of Los Angeles-based Owl Sight Intentions Inc. You can reach him at [email protected]