Leadership and the Dynamics of Human Behavior

Leader Behavior

by Lakshman Balasubramanyam

As a leader, you need to interact with your followers, peers, seniors, and others, whose support you need in order to accomplish your objectives. To gain their support, you must be able to understand and motivate them. To understand and motivate people, you must know human nature. Human nature is the common qualities of all human beings. People behave according to certain principles of human nature. These principles govern our behaviour. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Human needs are an important part of human nature. Values, beliefs, and customs differ from country to country and group to group, but all people have similar needs. As a leader you must understand these needs because they are powerful motivators.

Abraham Maslow (Maslow, 1954) felt that human needs were arranged in a hierarchical order. He based his theory on healthy, creative people who used all their talents, potential, and capabilities. At the time, this methodology differed from most other psychology research studies in that they were based on observing disturbed people. There are two major groups of human needs: basic needs and meta needs. Basic needs are physiological, such as food, water, and sleep; and psychological, such as affection, security, and self-esteem.

These basic needs are also called deficiency needs because if they are not met by an individual, then that person will strive to make up the deficiency. The higher needs are called meta needs or being needs (growth needs). These include justice, goodness, beauty, order, unity, etc. Basic needs normally take priority over growth needs. For example, a person who lacks food or water will not normally attend to justice or beauty needs.

These needs are listed below in hierarchical order. The basic needs on the bottom of the list (1 to 4) must normally be met before the meta or being needs above them can be met. The four meta needs (5 to 8) can be pursued in any order, depending upon a person's wants or circumstances, as long as the basic needs have all been met.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

8. Self-transcendence - a transegoic (see Note below) level that emphasizes visionary intuition, altruism, and unity consciousness.

7. Self-actualization - know exactly who you are, where you are going, and what you want to accomplish. A state of well-being.

6. Aesthetic - at peace, more curious about inner workings of all.

5. Cognitive - learning for learning alone, contribute knowledge.

4. Esteem - feeling of moving up in world, recognition, few doubts about self.

3. Belongingness and love - belong to a group, close friends to confide with.

2. Safety - feel free from immediate danger.

1. Physiological - food, water, shelter, sex.

Maslow posited that people want and are forever striving to meet various goals. Because the lower level needs are more immediate and urgent, then they come into play as the source and direction of a person's goal if they are not satisfied,. A need higher in the hierarchy will become a motive of behaviour as long as the needs below it have been satisfied. Unsatisfied lower needs will dominate unsatisfied higher needs and must be satisfied before the person can climb up the hierarchy. Knowing where a person is located on this scale aids in determining an effective motivator.

For example, motivating a middle-class person (who is in range 4 of the hierarchy) with a certificate will have a far greater impact than using the same motivator to effect a minimum wage person from the ghetto who is desperately struggling to meet the first couple of needs. It should be noted that almost no one stays in one particular hierarchy for an extended period. We constantly strive to move up, while at the same time various forces outside our control try to push us down. Those on top get pushed down for short time periods, i.e., death of a loved-one or an idea that does not work, while those on the bottom get pushed up, i.e., come across a small prize.

Our goal as leaders therefore is to help people obtain the skills and knowledge that will push them up the hierarchy on a more permanent basis. People who have their basic needs met become much better workers as they are able to concentrate on fulfilling the visions put forth to them, rather than consistently struggling to make ends meet.

Characteristics of self-actualizing people

Have better perceptions of reality and are comfortable with it.

Accept themselves and their own natures.

Lack of artificiality.

They focus on problems outside themselves and are concerned with basic issues and eternal questions.

They like privacy and tend to be detached.

Rely on their own development and continued growth.

Appreciate the basic pleasures of life (e.g., do not take blessings for granted).

Have a deep feeling of kinship with others.

Are deeply democratic and are not really aware of differences.

Have strong ethical and moral standards.

Are original, inventive, less constricted and fresher than others

Theory X and Theory Y

Douglas McGreagor developed a philosophical view of humankind with his Theory X and Theory Y (McGregor, 1957) , which are two opposing perceptions about how people view human behaviour at work and organizational life: Theory X

People have an inherent dislike for work and will avoid it whenever possible.

People must be coerced, controlled, directed, or threatened with punishment in order to get them to achieve the organizational objectives.

People prefer to be directed, do not want responsibility, and have little or no ambition.

People seek security above all else. Note that with

Theory X assumptions

management's role is to coerce and control employees.

Theory Y

Work is as natural as play and rest.

People will exercise self-direction if they are committed to the objectives (they are NOT lazy).

Commitment to objectives is a function of the rewards associated with their achievement.

People learn to accept and seek responsibility.

Creativity, ingenuity, and imagination are widely distributed among the population. People are capable of using these abilities to solve an organizational problem.

People have potential. Note that with

Theory Y assumptions

management's role is to develop the potential in employees and help them to release that potential towards common goals.

Theory X is the view that traditional management has taken towards the workforce. Many organizations are now taking the enlightened view of theory Y. A boss can be viewed as taking the theory X approach, while a leader takes the theory Y approach.

Herzberg's Hygiene and Motivational Factors

Herzberg developed a list of factors (Herzberg, 1966) that are based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, except his version is more closely related to the working environment.

Hygiene or Dissatisfiers: Working conditions, Policies and administrative practices, Salary and Benefits, Supervision, Status, Job security, Co-workers, Personal life.

Motivators or Satisfiers: Recognition, Achievement, Advancement, Growth, Responsibility, Job challenge. Hygiene factors must be present in the job before motivators can be used to stimulate that person. That is, you cannot use motivators until all the hygiene factors are met.

Herzberg's needs are specifically job related and reflect some of the distinct things that people want from their work as opposed to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs which reflect all the needs in a persons life. Building on this model, Herzberg coined the term "job enrichment" to describe the process of redesigning work in order to build in motivators. Notice that Maslow, Herzberg, and McGreagor's theories all tie together:

Herzberg's theory is a micro version of Maslow's theory (concentrated in the work place).

McGreagor's Theory X is based on workers caught in the lower levels (1 to 3) of Maslow's theory, while his Theory Y is for workers who have gone above level 3.

McGreagor's Theory X is based on workers caught in Herberg's Hygiene Dissatisfiers, while Theory Y is based on workers who are in the Motivators or Satisfiers section.

Keirsey Temperament Sorter

David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates based their work on the Myers-Briggs-Type-Indicator (MBTI), which in turn is based on the work of Carl Jung. Keirsey & Bates theorizes that there are four temperaments or characters that personality is based upon and although we have the capacity for all four temperaments, we typically develop a dominate attitude or predisposition for one of them. These temperaments are described with the names of Greek gods of mythology, with whom they share preferences and behaviours:

Dionysian (Artisan) - This temperament seeks freedom, values spontaneity, and resists being constrained or obligated. They do things because the process of doing them is pleasing, regardless of the goal or outcome. They are action driven, here-and-now, and thrive on situations requiring immediate response. They are optimists who are not easily controlled. They are the ultimate trouble-shooters and negotiators. They tend to dislike bosses, policies, and procedures.

Epithean (Guardian) - People with this temperament have strong affiliation needs, a sense of duty, are keepers of traditions, get satisfaction from giving, and have strong work ethics. They want recognition and appreciation they believe is merited, but will not request it. They are pessimists who elicits conformity to group norms. They like making clear cut decisions and will follow established organizational protocol without question.

Promethian (Rationalist) - This type of person understands, predicts, explains and harness phenomena. They value competence in themselves and others, thrive on challenges, and strive to control situations. They are the most self-critical of all and consistently set higher goals of perfection. They are almost never satisfied with accomplishments and are embarrassed by praise. They are imaginative, analytical, and like to build systems for the future. They will create sweeping changes if they see the need.

Apollonian (Idealist) - An Apollonian sets extraordinary goals, even transcendent, that is hard for them to even explain. They strive to "be real" and are always in the process of "becoming." Work, relationships, efforts, and goals must be imbued with "meaning." They are hard workers if the cause is deemed worthwhile, and are tireless in pursuit of a cause. Can be a gadfly in pursuing one goal after another. They prefer the big picture over details, are cantered on people and relationships, and would rather focus on ideas than tasks. Leaders need all four types of temperaments on their team in order to make it well rounded. All too often, inexperienced leaders tend to choose people with their same temperament or favorite personality, thus their team becomes weak in that it cannot approach problems and implementations from all sides of the spectrum. To avoid this, balance your team and choose people from all walks of life and with different personalities.

Existence/Relatedness/Growth (ERG)

Clayton Alderfer's Existence/Relatedness/Growth (ERG) Theory of Needs (Alderfer, 1969) postulates that there are three groups of needs:

Existence - This group of needs is concerned with providing the basic requirements for material existence, such as physiological and safety needs. This need is satisfied by money earned in a job so that one may buy food, shelter, clothing, etc.

Relationships - This group of needs center on or is built upon the desire to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships. Since a person normally spends approximately half of one's waking hours on the job; this need is normally satisfied at least to some degree by one's co-workers.

Growth - These needs are met by personal development. A person's job, career, or profession provides for significant satisfaction of growth needs. Notice that this model is also built upon Maslow's. Alderfer's ERG theory also states that more than one need may be influential at the same time. If the gratification of a higher-level need is frustrated, the desire to satisfy a lower-level need will increase. He identifies this phenomenon as the "frustration & shy aggression dimension." Its relevance on the job is that even when the upper-level needs are frustrated, the job still provides for the basic physiological needs upon which one would then be focused. If, at that point, something happens to threaten the job, the person's basic needs are significantly threatened. If there are not factors present to relieve the pressure, the person may become desperate and panicky.

Expectancy Theory

Vroom's Expectancy Theory states that an individual will act in a certain way based on the expectation that the act will be followed by a given outcome and on the attractiveness of that outcome to the individual. This motivational model (Vroom, 1964) has been modified by several people, to include Porter and Lawler (Porter et. al., 1968). Vroom's Expectancy Theory is written as a formula:

Valence x Expectancy x Instrumentality = Motivation

Valence (Reward) = the amount of desire for a goal (What is the reward?)

Expectancy (Performance) = the strength of belief that work related effort will result in the completion of the task (How hard will I have to work to reach the goal?)

Instrumentality (Belief) = the belief that the reward will be received once the task is completed (Will they notice the effort I put forth?) The product of valence, expectancy, and instrumentality is motivation. It can be thought of as the strength of the drive towards a goal. For example, if an employee wants to move up through the ranks, then promotion has a high valence for that employee. If the employee believes that high performance will result in good reviews, then the employee has a high expectancy. However, if the employee believes the company will not promote from within, then the employee has low instrumentality, and the employee will not be motivated to perform better.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Author:Dr. L Balasubramanyam is a Senior Consultant. He has a doctorate in Dynamic Simulation Modeling for Staffing in projects and Companies. He is also a keen researcher in the Use of Fine chemicals and natural extracts for various industries and contributes articles. He has been instrumental in setting up start up organisations in the Systems Integration field for services and has vast experience in handling issues of trust and public affairs. Dr. Balasubramanyam also is a Sr. Human Resources Professional practicing the science and management of HR over the last 10 years and is now writing on the subject for very many publications. Lakshman Balasubramanyam may be contacted at http://www.lbdh.co.uk lakshman@lbdh.co.uk

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