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Maslow And the Hierarchy of Needs

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Maslow And the Hierarchy of Needs

by Dinesh Sekar, Management Consultant at Pink Elephant

In today’s organisational environment, one of the well-known theories of motivation is Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which put forwards that within every human being there is a hierarchy of five needs (Maslow, 1954). In the year 2014, a sixth need has been proposed for the highest level, “intrinsic values” which is said to have originated from Maslow’s needs, but it has yet to gain widespread acceptance. (Skelsey, 2014)

Figure 1 Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Source: https://www.phoenixfitness.ie/maslows-hierarchy-needs/

Abraham Harold Maslow (1908-1970) was a Psychologist who worked on Humanistic theory. His work was in the field of mental health. Most psychologists before him had been concerned with the abnormal and the ill. He wanted to know what constituted positive mental health and proposed hierarchy of needs which is relevant even today.

Maslow published a book, Motivation & Personality in the year 1954, where he wrote extensively on the concepts of hierarchy of needs in an individual. He interpreted personality in motivational terms, individual’s life, our perceptions, values, strivings and goals. He focused on satisfaction of set of needs. (Naveen, 2010).

According to Maslow, needs are arranged in following hierarchy:

Maslow discusses these basic needs is that they tend to be hierarchically ordered. That is, it is only after physiological needs are sufficiently satisfied that individual concern focuses on safety needs and so on up the hierarchy. In other words, a lower-level need has power to motivate behaviour until it is sufficiently satisfied, then the next higher category of need tends to take over. So, if a leader in an organization want to motivate someone, leaders in the organization need to understand what level of the hierarchy that person is currently on and focus on satisfying needs at or above that level.

In today’s organizational setup, does this hierarchy of needs apply?
is an important question which needs to be considered by leaders.

Maslow’s theory has received long-standing wide recognition, particularly among practicing leaders. It is intuitively logical and easy to understand, and some research has validated it in various industries and in cultures. Unfortunately, however, most research does not agree, especially when the theory is applied to diverse cultures (S. H. Mousavi and H. Dargahi, 2013) with the possible exception of physiological needs. Although, the fundamental desires of human beings are similar despite the multitude of conscious desires (Zalenski & Raspa, 2006), to motivate employees to reach the higher level of needs is not an easy job.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., once said: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” To make staff love what they do might be the most essential yet complicated task when leaders are trying to motivate their staff at work. There will never be a single perfect motivation theory in this world which can be applied to all situations and individuals seamlessly. (Wong PT and Low A, 2018)

It is thus important for leaders in today’s environment to be aware of the prevailing public acceptance of the hierarchy when discussing motivation in an organization large or small when the organization is spread across various regions and includes individuals from various cultures. The same motivational theory or policies created by the leaders may not necessary apply across the globe.

It is thus important for leaders in today’s environment to be aware of the prevailing public acceptance of the hierarchy when discussing motivation in an organization large or small when the organization is spread across various regions and includes individuals from various cultures. The same motivational theory or policies created by the leaders may not necessary apply across the globe.

By |2019-01-22T16:38:01+00:00January 22nd, 2019|Change Management, Leadership|0 Comments

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