Individual needs

Looking at individual needs in groups is a useful starting point, since group members must have some of their own needs met before they can contribute to the group and task.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs model
Maslow suggested that needs can be pictured as a ladder with five rungs, as shown in Figure 45.2. He showed that a person will only climb another rung on the ladder if the rung below is secure. As a leader it is important to be aware of this, and to be able to identify the position of individuals in a particular circumstance. For example, a group which has run out of water and is thirsty on a hot day, with little chance of finding more water for several hours, will have concern for little else. Similarly, a group member who has never camped before may be unable to enjoy anything on the first day of a trip because of their anxiety about shelter that night.

Maslow's Hierarchy

Figure 45.2 Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Group members may also have their own priority system or agenda for what they want from the group. These may not be the same as the group's goals, so it is useful to be aware of them. It is highly desirable that leaders be aware of any issues influencing the position on the ‘needs ladder’ of any members of the group. Problems of confidence, unrealised ambitions and social tensions are three examples of such issues.