Maslow and motivation

Maslow and motivation

Where does your drive come from?


Maslow wrote one of the most famous theories about motivation: the Hierarchy of Needs. However, this is just one of the multiple existent theories about motivation

The origin of motivation can be uncertain because it is the by-product of multiple combinations of variables. But we all know that motivation is fundamental. It is a key factor for continual improvement and growth.

Motivation at work is paramount and can determine our professional future, and in many ways, our daily life as well.

Motivation is a fire we all need to keep feeding!

How motivation leads to success is a question I get asked frequently, but to better understand the possible answers, we need to explore the different theories behind them a little.


What will we be covering here

Theories on motivation


Maslow’s pyramid

Critics and updates

Relevance and examples


Some of the most famous theories about motivation are:

📌 Hierarchy of needs, by Maslow.

📌 ERG theory: Existence needs, relatedness needs and growth needs, by Alderfer.

📌 Two-factor theory, by Herzberg.

📌 Reinforcement theory, by Skinner.

📌 Need for achievement, affiliation and power, by McClelland.

There is also:

📌 Adams’ equity theory

📌 Locke’s goal-setting theory

as well as so many more.



In this post, we will cover one of the most famous theory’s: Maslow’s.


Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

American psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed, in his 1943 paper called “A Theory of Human Motivation“, a first draft of what would be a complete theory regarding human needs.

That theory would be fully explained later in his 1954 book, Motivation and Personality.

At the time, it revolutionised the behavioural sciences worldwide.

Based on stages, Maslow envisioned a theory that takes into consideration the universal needs of human beings and also, that those needs would be at the base of human motivation.

Each level represents a need that must be satisfied first in order to move forward.

That’s the drive for motivation: ultimately, the satisfaction of the needs. And the ultimate goal would be to attain the last level.

The theory is typically depicted as a pyramid where, at the bottom, we find the fundamental, physiological needs (those that relate to survival) and then self-actualisation at the top, the needs that deal with personal growth and development.



Let’s take a look at the hierarchy in detail:

1. Physiological needs. Here we find the need for food, sleep and any activity that prevents distress at a physical level.

2. Safety needs. Here, Maslow talks about the need for safety in terms of protection and being free from danger.

3. Social needs. At this level we find the need for love, affection, friendship, and also, a sense of acceptance, community and belonging.

4. Self-image needs. Also known as self-esteem, includes self-respect, the feeling of achievement and being respected.

5. Self-actualisation needs. The last stop, the ultimate attainable goal. This includes the need to grow and develop as well as the need for personal fulfilment.

How is the theory viewed in today’s world?

Maslow’s theory has been deeply criticised mainly because he made it perfectly clear that each level of the “ladder” had to be climbed before passing to the next one.

In 1976, Wahba and Bridwell presented a paper about the need for additional research that backs up the theory.

In 2010, Renovating the Pyramid of Needs: Contemporary Extensions Built Upon Ancient Foundations, a paper by Douglas T. Kenrick, Vladas Griskevicius, Steven L. Neuberg, and Mark Schaller, published in Perspect Psychol Sci, proposed a new theory (with more levels) and not without controversy.

Today’s view of this is slightly different, as levels are regarded as continuously overlapping each other and not as a strict hierarchy.


“Motivation theory is not synonymous with behavior theory. The motivations are only one class of determinants of behavior. While behavior is almost always motivated, it is also almost always biologically, culturally and situationally determined as well.” 
― Abraham H. Maslow, A Theory of Human Motivation


Why is his theory of any relevance to us?

Because you can use it as a route map, to develop a style of entrepreneurship, management or leadership focused on the needs of your clients, teams, employees and stakeholders.

For example, if you’re an executive or a manager, you can use it in the workplace for:

🔸 Improving safety in the workplace
🔸 Promoting cooperation and teamwork
🔸 Giving credit and value
🔸 Providing space for career guidance and mentoring

If you are an entrepreneur, you might get ideas for producing products or services that have to do with some of the needs. For example:

🔸 Offering support and insurance, as in a refund or a 100% satisfaction guarantee policy
🔸 Creating bonds and the sense of belonging, as in social media communities

Also, if you want to appeal to the need for esteem, you can touch on any area related to lifestyle, vehicles, clubs, entrepreneurship, entertainment, beverages, etc.

And any charity, social responsibility or investment will be linked to the highest level of fulfilment: Self-Actualization.

“Self-actualized people…live more in the real world of nature than in the man-made mass of concepts, abstractions, expectations, beliefs and stereotypes that most people confuse with the world.” 
― Abraham Maslow, Hierarchy of Needs: A Theory of Human Motivation


More examples

Public speaker and author Denise Brosseau, in her course “Becoming a Thought Leader”, mentions that Chip Conley updated Maslow’s hierarchy when he was writing his book about “building one hotel into the second-largest boutique hotel chain in the world”, so that the resultant framework was detailed enough to clearly show the principles behind his actions”

And in fact, in his book, Peak, Conley shows how to apply the “fulfilment principle” to a company, so the businesses can achieve their fullest potential.

Before closing, I’d like to suggest a very short exercise which has already been shared with my LinkedIn friends. It is about self-motivation, and I’d like to know the results if you give it a try.

It goes like this:

📌 write down (in capital letters) one goal you want to accomplish. Just one goal!

📌 below that, write down the reasons for wanting that. Think about Maslow’s pyramid and write down which of the mentioned needs this goal will fulfil

📌 now, write one thing that you can do TODAY to be closer to that goal. An achievable, realistic, very simple thing, you can do TODAY to be closer to that feeling of achievement

📌 commit to it

📌 at the end of the day, go back to your writing and reflect: did you do it? How does it feel?

Drop me a line and let me know.

Top Emotional Skills for Better Leadership and Teamwork

Top Emotional Skills for Better Leadership and Teamwork

Emotional Skills at work

How do these competencies affect successful leadership, teamwork and productivity?


“Emotional intelligence skills are synergistic with cognitive ones; top performers have both” – Daniel Goldman, Working with Emotional Intelligence.


Last week, we began to talk about Emotional Intelligence (EI) and its importance in terms of performance, productivity and development.

Today, we will explore a little bit about Emotional Skills- which can be learnt and improved (this is good news, right?)

What will we be covering here?

How Emotional Skills can be a game changer for your business

Corporate areas that directly benefit from improving EI

The Four main areas of EI

Identifying Competencies (or skills) and how they affect our work


But first, let’s take a look at how Emotional Intelligence and more specifically, Emotional Competencies can be a game changer for your business:

👉 Improving communications leads to better team management, better understanding of your audience and better content creation

👉 Learning how to respond as opposed to react leads to improved business relations, project building with valuable team members – who we might previously have thought we couldn’t work with – and creates an atmosphere of collaboration and growth

👉 Empathy helps us to understand the needs of our clients and customers, so we can develop products/offer services that genuinely meet the needs of our targeted audience

👉 Managing stress contributes to a better ambience, satisfaction and productivity

👉 Knowing how and when to adapt ourselves gives rise to better Leadership.

“Decades of leadership research suggest that these skills are crucial for leader effectiveness. ” – Ronald E.Riggio and Joanne Lee

They all contribute to better performance, productivity and development.

Emotional Competencies

Applying this to the corporate environment, in particular, the following areas can directly benefit from improving EI:

💪 Team Management and Development: EI can help you to keep the stress at bay in any team, encourage good communication and maintain the skills to solve any conflict that might arise

💪 Staff selection and development: EI is key in identifying the right candidate and helping to develop the mission and vision of the company throughout the hiring and training process

But let’s not forget, on a more personal note, that Emotional Intelligence is a pillar for personal development, helping you to healthily respond to the environment, to have better interpersonal relationships and to develop traits that can be of value to any future endeavour.

In the last post, we also talked about the four main areas of EI:

📍 Self-Awareness: recognising our emotions is the first step. If we acknowledge them, we can choose how to control them.

📍 Self Management: this is the aspect that allows us to master our emotions, to be in control of them and give them better use when necessary

📍 Social Awareness: recognising emotions in others can help us relate to them better. Happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger and surprise are the 6 universal emotions that we can identify in any human being.

📍 Relationship Management: this area is the one that allows us to have an impact on our company, neighbourhood or community, our daily work with others and any social sphere. It relates to the emotions and behaviours of others and how we can be of benefit to them.

So today, we will explore further in order to identify some of the competencies -the skills- that are required in each area.

One important thing to understand is that a person might need to develop different competencies depending on the context.

If we are talking about work, for example, a content writer might need a high level of empathy, much like a nurse; but the nurse might also need a good sense of humour (whereas the copywriter’s performance would not be compromised even if lacking a good sense of humour).

So, here we go with some of the most relevant emotional competencies

Emotional Competencies


Emotional Self-Awareness
The importance of recognising our own emotions is crucial and can really make the difference, transforming any situation from a potential disaster to one with a good outcome. Our feelings exist, they can’t be denied (even if we try to), so they are undoubtedly going to affect our performance. To be aware of them, knowing our own strengths as well as our limits, leads to an accurate sense of self-confidence and, at the same time, to a path of authenticity.


Emotional Self-Control
After identifying your emotion, the next step is to take control of it. If you can manage your emotions, you can stay calm and focused amid the most stressful situation and be of help to your co-workers and team in addition to yourself. Keeping disruptive emotions at bay is fundamental for leaders.

The ability to be flexible and change the course of action according to the circumstances without losing sight of the end goal can be daunting. Learning how to develop adaptability enables you to be flexible without stress. Life is unpredictable at the best of times, so uncertainty is expected and to be comfortable with it, is a great accomplishment.

Achievement Drive. Initiative and Innovation.
This competence is key and entails striving towards goals whilst maintaining a standard of excellence, accepting the challenges you might encounter en route but, at the same time, improving performance and being ready to welcome opportunities. Being open to innovation is crucial in an era where everything around us changes at lightning speed.

Positive Outlook
The way you see the world changes it. You can build your whole universe and turn each and every situation into an opportunity. The future can always hold improvement and positive outcomes.

Social Awareness

Learning to understand others’ feelings, needs and perspectives is at the base of any business. Understanding audiences, clients, customers and teams leads to success. This entails taking a real interest, actively listening, being open and explaining ideas in a simple way whilst leveraging diversity and cultivating opportunities with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds.

Organizational Awareness and Service Orientation
It is an undisputable fact that understanding all the levels within an organization (power, norms and conflicts) as well as the dynamics inside a team gives opportunities for improvement. To be able to recognise and even anticipate those dynamics is crucial and can be the key factor to meeting your audiences’ needs.

Relationship Management. Influence and Communication
This part includes engagement, clear communication and persuasion, in terms of being able to motivate others towards achieving a common goal, in a constructive and respectful way.

Conflict Management (Negotiation)
The ability to recognise different perspectives and help the parties involved to find common ground, not censoring or ostracizing opinions but instead, encouraging them to find a positive resolution.

Inspiring and guiding the leader (manager, coach, mentor, business owner) to take real interest in assisting others, giving feedback and focusing on opportunities.

Nurturing collaboration, cooperation, building bonds
The ability to nurture and foster instrumental relationships, work towards a common goal, be able to listen, communicate and act accordingly.

These leaders build an atmosphere of cooperation, helpfulness, and respect. They help others commit to the group’s effort. They help a team develop an identity, positive relationships, and spirit.


By now, you might be wondering, how can I improve my emotional competencies and my own EIQ?

Well, developing soft skills will certainly help to improve social and emotional intelligence quotients.