Safety Leadership – Bringing it all together using the six human needs

Researching for the book I am writing about Safety Leadership, I stumbled across another gem from knowledge universe.  In this instance, it was the six human needs as defined by Tony Robbins. It started with Zoe Chances Ted Talk about additive behaviour and quickly linked to another Ted Talk by Tony himself. This discovery has transformed my thinking about how to bring together the elements of safety leadership. Actually, how to design any safety program so it will stick.


So according to world renowned performance coach, speaker,  Anthony Robbins, we are all driven by the requirement to fulfil 6 Core Human needs. These needs are not just desires or wants, but are hard wired into our brains serving as the basis of why we do what we do. They are always present, driving us and never go away. Therefore by understanding “why we do what we do” day by day we can begin to determine how to get to what we really want. In my field of interest its safe behaviours.

Interestingly, every person is influenced and motivated by the order of importance they place on each of these 6 needs. It seems we want to fulfil these needs in everything we do however it is not always in a positive way and not always in a resourceful or sustainable way. It is really how we meet these needs that can shape our lives and ultimately our success. Tony’s programs focus on which need we hold highest in our lives and uses them to change your thinking and hence your life.

So what exactly are the 6 core needs, you might ask?

Here they are: Significance, Certainty, Uncertainty, Connection, Growth and Contribution. According to Tony, the first 4 are the needs of the personality or our physical needs. The last 2, the needs of the spirit or the soul. They can be defined as:

SIGNIFICANCE: Also called: Status, Recognition, Validation & Uniqueness

Everyone needs to feel special and important. To satisfy this need people find ways to feel unique or special and prove their self-worth.

CERTAINTY: Security, Comfort, Safety, Control, Stability & Predictability

This need is simply about achieving order & control in life. Knowing we can be comfortable to have pleasure and avoid pain. Main function is to ensure an element of security, and it is manifested in safety and physical comfort

UNCERTAINTY:Adventure, Variety, Surprise, Novelty or Challenge

It is a physical & emotional need that encourages us to bring the new, the unknown and sometimes disorder into our lives. Everyone needs some variety in life. Our bodies, our minds and our emotional well-being all require uncertainty in some way. Just as a sense of security is reassuring, so the excitement that comes from variety is necessary.

CONNECTION: Social, Communication, Love

Connection is represented by the human desire to communicate with, relate to and receive love from those around us. Everyone needs connection with other human beings. We are all motivated to share and develop relationships with people to meet this need in our lives.

GROWTH – Through personal development, knowledge and learning we fulfil the need for growth in our lives. This core need is what drives us to mature and evolve as human beings.

CONTRIBUTION – Finally, we all share the need for Contribution. It is manifested in our desire to serve those around us and give something (typically love) rather than simply receiving. Contribution is about sharing what we have with others as we all desire to go beyond our own needs and give to others.In its positive aspect, significance leads us to raise our standards, but if we are overly focused on significance, we will have trouble truly connecting with others

Great leaders are aware of these six needs and which is their strongest, as well as those around them. They understand to motivate people they need to tap into those human needs. They are masters in reading which human needs are strongest amongst their team and tailor engagements to meet these needs. Being deliberate and considering how we are meeting these needs in others. Be sure to design programs that have all of these elements so it appeals to everyone.

Over the next couple of weeks I will share the safety leadership programs we are developing and how they meet these needs. It is a brave new way to design safety programs but for maximum effectiveness we must consider this criteria.

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