Saturday, October 9, 2010

Obama and Maslow

Maslow had it right!

Famed Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed his hierarchy of needs in the 1940’s and the 1950’s. The five levels of human needs have been an important part of motivation, leadership and management since it first was published. We need to look no further than this great piece of work to understand what is wrong in America.

The five levels of needs are as follows:

1. Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.

2. Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, etc.

3. Belongingness and Love needs - work group, family, affection, relationships, etc.

4. Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.

5. Self-Actualization needs - realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

The principle is that humans work and live through each level of needs consecutively. That is, once level one is fulfilled a human will move to level two and so forth until they reach level five. Of particular importance is that when a lower level of needs is no longer fulfilled a person will revert of trying to fulfill that need and not the level he/she had reached.

In a simple example, when someone is having their house repossessed, you cannot expect them to focus on a world currency, health care for all, or even a war to help other nations. Yet, the latter items seem to be what our Government is focused on achieving.

Seemingly the vast majority of the electorate in the country has reverted to levels one and two. The examples of why they would be clinging to these levels are truly so numerous they cannot be all enumerated. A couple of examples: Laws are not enforced (immigration, GM bankruptcy, voter disruption, health care law exemptions, home foreclosures, bank fraud, etc.). Belief in our Government’s ability to properly respond and manage the country (Katrina, BP oil spill, bank bail out, unemployment, lobbyists, healthcare). Unemployment continues unabated and there are no programs in place to create jobs.

Many have said that we are not “on the same page”; the taxpayers and Government. Truly we are not on the same page and the hierarchy of needs explains why and what needs to be done by the Country’s leadership. As in any business or in any management role, the leaders must lead at the level of their constituencies. If your employee is worried about losing his job because his employer might go out of business, you do not encourage him by talking about strategic initiatives of the next five years. No, you spend the time explaining and demonstrating that the Company has a bright short term future and he should not be concerned.

In contrast, what we see daily is a Governmental leadership that has a “don’t worry be happy” attitude. Instead of leading on the level of the hierarchy in which the electorate lives our leaders seem to be focused on their personal self actualization while telling the followers that it will get better soon. President Obama’s proclamation that we should “buck up” only confirms that he is happy at level five and can’t be bothered with the predicament of the masses.

When a collective we, are managed on the level at which we live that means we are all on the same page and we are working together to move everyone to the next level. This is not hard to do, it is more empathy and a willingness to show compassion by acknowledging the level on which the followers live and taking some actions to ensure the followers that the leaders are working to solve the problems.

Imagine if tomorrow you woke up and the Government was working on real American jobs. Suddenly they would be leading at the level on the hierarchy that you can agree with. Imagine if it was announced tomorrow that Pontiac was reinvented and 60,000 jobs would result. On the same page? Of Course.

1 comment:

  1. "Imagine if it was announced tomorrow that Pontiac was reinvented "

    If only :)