By Anuradha Tandukar

If we apply Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory to the growth needs of our organization, we can focus on describing the stages of growth in our organization. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often characterized in the shape of a pyramid with the largest, most basic levels of needs at the bottom and the need for self-actualization at the top.

Self-actualization refers to the state when one has realized its full potential, be it an organization or an individual. Maslow has described this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be. In terms of an organization, the same rules can be applied to an individual.

The need for self-actualization may be different for different entities. For example, for one entity, this need may be fulfilled when the organization goes public as it grows, whereas, for some other entity, this need may be met when the organization has generated a certain amount of revenue. In brief, the need for self-actualization is met when the visionary’s ultimate vision comes into reality. Now the question is how can we achieve this level of need? According to Maslow’s theory, to understand this level of need, the person must not only achieve the previous needs, but also be able to master them.

The most basic level of needs consists of the physiological needs, which in terms of an organization, are the tools necessary for that organization to exist. A workstation, power, internet, workers, etc, are some good examples of the most fundamental needs. Next are the safety needs. Availability of resources, technology, expertise, assets, and capital are some examples of safety needs of an organization. The third one is the need for love/belonging. In terms of an organization, some examples of belonging needs are having a positive team spirit, good employer-employee relationships, courtesy between workers, etc. The next one is the need for esteem. This need can be achieved by meeting the self-esteem needs of that particular organization. Being confident as an organization and having a sense of achieving something significant are examples of meeting esteem needs. When an organization achieves and masters its need for esteem, it is one more step closer to reaching its final need, the need for self-actualization.

The final need may not be very easy to achieve, and there are going to be turbulent times in any organization. The leaders must know how to act and respond during crisis, and also should be able to identify which stage of growth their organization is passing through. Dreams and visions are two different things. Therefore, visualizing is extremely important in any organization, in order to successfully achieve and master the need for self-actualization.