It was in 1943 that Abraham Maslow first developed his ever-popular pyramid that prioritized human need and, although there are many applications for the hierarchy, it is certainly exercised often by leaders. After all, the role of the leader is to interact with people in a way that motivates them to achieve a common goal. What better way to inspire people than to understand their needs and help to achieve them?
In the original hierarchy, social needs were depicted as the third type of need in order, following physiological needs (food, water, shelter, air, sleep, and sex) and the need for safety and security. Social needs, of course, represented the need for friendship and family, which took priority over the needs for esteem and self-actualization.
Our Social Needs Have Become More Important
Recently, however, there have been some changes to the hierarchy, which place social needs closer to the bottom of the pyramid and, in some cases, right at the bottom of the pyramid, among physiological needs. It turns out (through either updated research or, less likely, changes in human behaviour since 1943) that we are now more predisposed to seek human contact and social interaction—to the point where we struggle to thrive without it.
From a leadership standpoint, it’s important to understand and adapt to these new changes:
- Incorporating social interaction into as many aspects of your business as possible
- Eliminate silos wherever possible and allow your team to collaborate and work together to get things done
The social aspect of work will increase accountability among your employees and allow them to learn from each other, adding to their professional improvement.
Finally, understand that this “new” hierarchy is not a trivial change from the old one. It’s a fundamental and accurate representation of human needs. Take the time to understand this new pyramid and identify the needs within yourself. Doing so will aid in your personal development and in the development of your team.