The Self Actualized Leader

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The self actualized leader finds himself existing at the top of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy.  Take a look at the chart below and look at the characteristics of the self-actualized and how it compares to that of the anxiety driven leader.  Where do you stand?  Are you a more self-actualized leader or an anxiety driven leader?  I can think of many times I found myself on the right hand side of the chart vs. the left hand side.  The impact that your presence leaves with your team and company can be dramatic.


Self Actualized Leadership

Anxiety Driven Leadership

1. Appreciation and focus on others 1. Distracted
2. Sense of Purpose 2. Driven By The Opinions Of Others
3. Resistance To Enculturation 3. Chameleon
4. Embracing The Unknown 4. Security Drives All Decisions
5. High Enthusiasm 5. Fear
6. Inner Directedness 6. Rule Follower
7. Detachment From The Outcome 7. Focused Solely On Outcome
8.  Independent From Others Opinions 8. Others Opinions Lead and Direct
9.  No Need to Control Others 9. Controlling  / Micro-Managing


What a great aspirational goal for leaders.  My biggest challenge as a leader is being detached from the outcome and being independent from the good opinions of others. My Hogan report indicates that I have high interpersonal sensitivity, which means I can be very warm and have a need for approval and can be distracted from directive leadership.

Number 2 really leads to numbers 7 and 8.  As you embrace your sense of purpose, your vision, your reason for being, you just do not care about the outcome because your purpose is your outcome. Your vision becomes what you focus on.

The greatest enemy of self-actualization is having a need to live an anxiety free life.  They cannot co-exist because a self-actualized person welcomes the unknown.  The unknown can create anxiety.   The greatest joy of the self-actualized person is to pursue their vision with rigor and to be present. That is where number 1 fits in.  This appreciation for others, allows us to stay in the moment and see life unfold in nature, people and business.

The greatest enemy of number 1 is what is known as rumination.  Rumination is your mind’s useless exercise (often) to overanalyze a situation to gain the known, to reduce anxiety.  For me, rumination occurs around 3:00 am, when I awake after several hours of sleep.  I ruminate about what is ahead to try and gain certainty.

As I shared before, leadership is a journey and a process.   Allow yourself to move up to that aspirational goal of a self-actualized leader.