SBM Articles


Tap Into Your Full Potential in 2019

by Kathy Cooperman

The new year is now fully underway. To what extent are you and your team tapping into your full potential as you work toward your 2019 goals?
What is ‘full potential’?

Achieving full potential is simply “being the best that you can be.” Another label for achieving full potential is “self-actualization,” shown at the top of the pyramid on Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs.”

The theory is simple: Humans are motivated to satisfy unsatisfied needs. As each level of needs becomes satisfied, the next level of needs drives behavior. The needs are shown as a pyramid, with the lowest-level needs at the bottom.

1. Physiological needs (lowest-level needs)
These are our very basic survival needs. Having fresh air, food and water are examples of these very basic needs. For example, employees (at all levels) are motivated to hold on to their jobs in order to buy groceries for their families. If they’re constantly in fear of losing their jobs, employees will not be concerned about higher-level needs such as finding creative solutions to operational problems.

2. Safety needs
Once the physiological needs are mostly satisfied, the next level of needs drives behaviors. Safety means having a secure place to live/work. Again, employees come to work in order to earn money so they can provide shelter, security from harm, and safety for themselves and their families.

3. Social needs

Once safety needs are mostly met, people are driven to satisfy their social needs. Examples include the need to belong to a group, to be a part of something, to feel loved/cared for. These needs are satisfied in many ways in the workplace. People may enjoy being part of a work team or a project group where their presence is valued and appreciated.

4. Esteem needs
Once the social needs are mostly met, people are motivated by self-esteem needs. This includes the need to feel respected as a human being, accepted and appreciated for contributions to the team and working toward achieving organizational goals.

5. Self-actualization needs (highest-level needs)
Finally, once all of the previous needs are mostly satisfied, people are motivated to satisfy their self-actualization needs. Simply put, this means “to be the most they can be.” Self-actualization is at the top of the pyramid because it’s considered the highest-level needs.

Maslow believed that less than 1% of the population ever fully achieves self-actualization. The most effective leaders understand that work conditions must be at least acceptable in order for employees to fully use their unique talents and potential. This striving to reach one’s full potential is the most powerful motivator of all.

As a leader, what can you do to allow people to be more creative and highly productive? Get to know each person individually. This will allow you to tailor the work itself; create opportunities for social interaction; and provide rewards, incentives and recognition to satisfy each individual’s most pressing needs.

Kathy Cooperman, an executive coach and leadership expert, is the president and founder of KC Leadership Consulting LLC. For more information, contact her at, or 720.542.3324.

Submitted 79 days ago
Categories: categoryLeader Acceleration
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