I’ve always been fascinated by people. It’s why my early career focused on marketing, which let me discover so much about what makes us tick and what makes us take action. And it’s why the last decade I’ve focused on coaching and facilitating business success, because it’s in this role that I get to create healthy bottom lines through building healthier teams.

I’ve been on leadership teams at grass-roots start ups and innovative enterprise projects and delivered more than 500 on-site client days as one of my region’s most highly recognized EOS Implementors. Through my personal experience and listening to hundreds of stories from other leaders and consultants, I’ve come to recognize a single trait shared by all highly successful business leaders. The leaders who thrive not only recognize that they are leading people; they are fascinated by the humanity of the people they lead.

Their prime directive might be to generate profit, but they achieve that directive by focusing on people. They’re concerned with engagement, retention, creative contribution, and performance, not as metrics but as missions.

Their real objective in their leadership, whether they’re conscious of it or not, is to provide all the necessary resources for their teams to reach what Abraham Maslow in 1943, referred to as “self-actualization.”

Introduced in his paper, “Theory of Self-Actualization and the Hierarchy of Needs,” the pyramid we’ve come to call “Maslow’s Hierarchy” became the gold standard for everything from self-help manuals to positive psychology researchers and experts.

While self-actualization was actually a term coined earlier by Kurt Goldstein, it’s Maslow’s model that most often comes to mind. In my work, I find that this definition of self-actualization is most relevant to business and teams: The psychological process aimed at maximizing the use of a person’s abilities and resources.

But when we’re working with group dynamics that hierarchy falls short of providing a working model for leaders to develop high-performing, self-actualized teams.

Maslow’s work made it obvious that at its core, human nature is universal. We’re quite literally “born that way.”

His theory of self-actualization was based on the premise that it is the nature of humans to also have universal needs. And that is true in team dynamics as well. Humans have universal needs to “maximize the use of their abilities and resources” when asked to function as part of a group, just as they do when reaching self-actualization as an individual.

In my “business lab,” which is what I call my client facilitation days at Business Alchemist, I’ve been using an amazingly powerful framework that I call the 6 Facets of Human Needs™ (which I often refer to as “the 6 Cs”) to evaluate team health and pinpoint where these universal needs are not being met for the team.

I represent these needs, not as a linear pyramid, but as a circle. Each Facet of Human Need™ opens the door for greater actualization and deeper exploration of the next facet.

The 6 Facets of Human Needs™: Clarity, Connection, Contribution, Challenge, Consideration, and Confidence.

My clients focus on these needs in their mission and values statements, in their business structure and strategy, and in their company culture and policies. If you would like to learn more, I elaborate on these needs in my book, The Human Team: So You Created a Team but People Showed Up.