The human mind was created in a time and place that looks nothing like the modern world. While we’d like to think of ourselves and our employees and machines capable of taking input and outputting work, this is an outdated and ineffective mental model.
The human mind is complex and unlocking peak human performance requires careful attention to the needs and drives that make us who we are. Leaders who do not take these factors into account will always get subpar results from themselves and those around them.
These are the six needs and drivers of human performance:
If any of these are something you scoff at as unnecessary, are concepts you don’t deeply understand, or are even something you don't regularly think about, you have a leadership blindspot that needs to be addressed.
Every action you take should, in some way, increase the levels of these human needs in yourself or in those around you. If it does not, then it is an unnecessary or detrimental action.
The physiological needs that allow us to survive. If we feel threatened, there is little that we can do besides react instinctively to threats.
Closely tied to Safety, Connection is an essential part of the human psyche. Throughout most of human history, ostracization meant death. Unconditional acceptance, therefore, is a basic need that allows us to operate without the cloud of fear behind us.
The esteem that allows us to stand for what we believe. Dignity is as much about how we carry ourselves as it is about our beliefs. Dignity is easy to lose to ill-considered actions by solipsistic leaders or to give away in order to make life easier.
A purpose is needed that transcends the mundane. While we often give ourselves the motivation to get our work done for small rewards like finishing a task, it is the larger purpose that gives us the lasting motivation and resilience to persevere.
Personal growth happens in small, measurable steps. It is the loop of immediate feedback and deep focus that gives us immense pleasure in the tasks at hand. Providing the needed environment for mastery is key to productivity.
Humans cannot function without choice. The ability to choose one’s own future, to decide the next step, is intrinsic to what makes us human. Without autonomy, we are reduced to stressed-out automata without the capacity for anything but menial tasks.
We consider the first three of these waypoints to be basic needs. In your work with Move Mountains, the first thing we will do is make sure you find safety, connection, and dignity in the way you move, act, and lead. The resulting change will show up in how you make decisions, how you speak, and even how you stand - these are all more interconnected than we realize.
Take a moment and sit or stand up straight. Holding yourself with dignity; tall but relaxed, at ease, but ready to move at a moment's notice. How does your outlook change? Your decisions, actions, and leadership change in step.