Enhancing Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs for Effective Leadership.

Author:Soni, Bina


The literature and popular culture in leadership and administration have been glorifying greed for quite some time now. Prominent TV shows (e.g., Donald Trump's TV serial: The Apprentice) and movies (e.g., Wall Street) promote the emerging hire and fire corporate culture, which has even trickled down to non-profit government funded organizations; those higher up in the administration are generally motivated by bonuses and other business perks. Therefore, marginalized groups across the world have been protesting, giving rise to all levels of social and global crisis (DeCosse, 2008), and the elites often continue to capitalize upon these conditions by triggering and starting wars which make their financial, defense, and construction companies richer by the day (Jusasz, 2013).

National security has become the war cry during the beginning of the 21st century, which has led to all kinds of covert and overt oppression and suppression such as prevalence of recording phone messages of their citizens, even in the nations who championed and continue to champion democracy all over the world (Trethewey & Goodall, 2007). In these challenging times, we need leaders in all spheres of business and society who can shape and guide the humanity for a better tomorrow. The leaders of tomorrow will have to not just empower the followers but do so with the understanding of human diversity, the planet, and the environment. They will have to work from the heart and not just their minds.

The next section of this article presents a brief literature review of leadership, which is followed by a discussion on how leadership has moved back and forth between the "bright" to the "dark" side over the years. Thereafter, the ancient Indian chakra system is briefly introduced. In the subsequent section, the authors briefly discuss how the chakra system can enhance Maslow's hierarchy of needs for producing better leadership. The last section presents brief conclusions.


When we think of leadership, in general, we get a mental image of a glorified person in history, such as Alexander the Great, Napoleon, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and other such great statesmen in the field of politics who had great charisma, apart from other empowering and some disempowering formidable leadership qualities. Such leaders, no matter how famous or infamous they may have been, whether in the field of politics or economics, are seen to have imposed their vision on their followers. Such has been the case in history until World War II (Rejai & Phillips, 2004). However, are leaders only in the public arena or do we find leaders in everyday life too? Are parents, teachers, preachers, coaches, and peers also leaders? Thereafter, we need to examine the context and the concept of leadership in more depth.

Leadership has been defined in many different ways in popular literature and in scholarly literature. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines leadership as "the power or the ability to lead other people." Business Dictionary.com adds to the above definition by defining it as the ability to have a clear vision, sharing that vision with others who would follow willingly, and coordinating conflicting interests of all members and stakeholders of an organization. In addition, a leader comes forward in times of crisis and is able to think and act creatively to resolve problems. Probably, these are the leaders who are remembered the most, like George Washington, as mentioned earlier.

Therefore, as Hackman and Wageman (2007) rightly question, "Not do leadership make a difference, but under what conditions does leadership matter?" They distinguish conditions under which leaders actions have major consequences from those where they barely make any difference...

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