What powerful impact can the human need for belonging have in leadership?

Need for belonging

The Need for Belonging and How This Manifests in Executives (Part 3 in the Human Needs Series)

In the first two blog posts of this series, you will recall that we talked about the four needs that humans need to fulfil in order to achieve inner peace and psychological calm. These are significance, control, belonging and contentment.

As we already discussed, if you are leading an organisation or business, it is essential that you ensure all of these needs are being met. Doing so will help ensure that you are being the best business leader that you can possibly be. You will also need to ensure that you understand the ways in which the members of your team think, and what needs they have themselves, so that you can tailor your leadership accordingly for maximum impact and influence.

If you missed the first two posts in this series, check them out here.

In our last post, we looked at the need for control. Today, we are going to be moving on to look at the need for belonging. This relates to our need for connection and love, both in the workplace and in our personal lives (for example, our friendships and relationships with family). It may also take into account how accepted we feel by a certain group, and whether or not we feel we belong there. For business leaders, it may also relate to how you are perceived within your organisation (for example, are you admired? Respected? Viewed as competent), and how you see yourself.

If we feel loved, this need for belonging manifests itself as trust, acceptance, and confidence – all of which are great qualities for leaders.

However, if this need for belonging is not being met, it can manifest itself as difficulties forming relationships with others (even professional ones), isolation, or avoidance or withdrawal from social situations. It can also make people more susceptible to becoming victims of emotional abuse. They may also become the bully or abuser themselves.

As leaders, it is important that we take steps to ensure we are displaying the positive manifestations of this need for belonging rather than the negative ones. This includes understanding how to manage our desire for belonging, and handle this in a way that is productive for both ourselves and the others around us.

If you feel like your love and belonging needs aren’t being met, there are a number of things you can do to change this. For example, you can:

  • Invest the extra time necessary to build productive and professional working relationships with others (e.g. by taking a genuine interest in others)
  • Build friendships with others both at and outside of work
  • Attending social events
  • Joining workplace or social groups that meet up regularly
  • Meeting new people
  • Making the time to spend time with family and friends, even when you’re busy or have a lot of work to do
  • Giving back to the community in some way

If you feel like your need for belonging is not being met, you may also find it helpful to talk to another business leader or executive outside of your company or organisation, who has had the same feelings as you in the past. The is one of the services I offer to other business leaders as an executive advisor and coach. You can find out more about my services here.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, you might like to read the rest of our series on human needs and how these relate to executives and business leaders. Find the next post in this series here.







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Caroline Kennedy, author of Lead Beyond 2030: The Nine Skills You Need to Intensify Your Leadership Impact, is an accomplished, award-winning CEO and global thought leader on business and leadership. She is a highly sought-after mentor and coach to top global executives. A respected keynote speaker and author, Caroline’s methods are neuroscience-based to achieve rapid development and growth.


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