Self-actualisation is the second subscale of self-perception. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, proposes that it is the highest level of psychological development. In this article, we will be looking at self-actualisation in the context of emotional intelligence and how it affects our behaviour.

Self-actualisation is the pursuit of self-improvement and achieving personally meaningful objectives. It involves the active realisation of personal goals, talents, and potentialities. For some people, self-actualization is an ongoing process of constant development towards new and ever-expanding goals. For others it is merely a dream, without any active pursuit of achieving a higher meaning. Different people also have different thoughts and levels of what it may mean to them.


It is important to reiterate that people fall somewhere between the high range and low range of each subscale. It is not about trying to score in the high range, or to avoid the lower range in any of the categories we discuss. It is more important to notice how the various subcategories interact and affect our interaction with ourselves and others around us.

High Range vs Low Range Self-Actualization

A person who scores in the higher range tends to seek out new challenges and accomplishments and often having lots of energy and passionate in what they direct their attention too. Motivated to do their best, they strive to achieve a rich and fulfilled life. Not necessarily financially. Highly self-actualised people will find their own meaning in life and what constitutes success.

Conversely a person in the lower range of self-actualisation may struggle to find meaning in their life and often lacking in motivation to achieve or taking part in fulfilling tasks. They may feel stuck in life and unsure of which direction to go. Almost like a ship without a rudder. The question, “What is the purpose of life?” springs to mind.

Impact In The Workplace

Thriving organisations are always looking for ways to change and grow for the better. This is also true for people who score in the higher range for self-actualisation. Such individuals can be highly motivated to see the company prosper as well. Therefore, organizations can benefit greatly by employing people who strive to be self-actualised or helping them to become self-actualised. With shared values, such members work hard within their role to ensure the success and growth of the organisation. Focussing on achieving ideal outcomes, rather than on the problem itself.

On the contrary, people who fall in the low range of self-actualisation are likely to struggle to motivate themselves and may only do the bare minimum of what is required of them. Possibly even struggling to see the point in what they are doing. Providing their best quality of work is often not their top priority.

Impact On Leadership

It is often the people who fall within the higher range of self-actualisation that take on leadership roles. They may be better suited to leadership, as their motivation propels and motivates themselves and team members forward. Usually, an important trait for leaders to have. Great leaders are never done with learning and strive to achieve more and better results. Overcoming perceived plateaus.

A potential pitfall of a leader with high self-actualization

Imagine a leader that scores very high in self-actualisation and scoring in the low range for empathy. They may be so determined to do better and achieve their goals, that they don’t care that they walk over others in the process. Or they just might not be aware of how bad or inadequate they make others feel.

In a leadership role, one should give creative and constructive direction and feedback. Encouraging team members to develop their own ideas and potentially autonomous working where appropriate. This is however achieved in a motivating and emotionally intelligent way. Not by walking over people or bullying them.

You are essentially who you create yourself to be and all that occurs in your life is the result of your own making.
– Stephen Richards

Self-Actualisation In The Workplace

A cohesive team with shared values, work together and can greatly increase the success of an organisation.

Potential benefit of high self-actualised team members

Imagine a team of people with a strong motivation to do what is best for the organisation to succeed whilst doing right by the community. They will likely build up a good rapport based on their shared motivation. Often, building on top of each other’s ideas resulting in excellent collaboration and outcomes. Staff who score high in self-actualisation are likely to respond well to this by providing their best work. They are likely to be focused on how they can always improve their performance going forward. This potentially leads and allows people to think outside the box and be solution focussed.

Potential pitfall of low self-actualised team members

Those who are in the higher range might be more committed to do what it takes to help achieve success for the organisation. Whereas members who scored in the lower range may be more haphazard and lackadaisical. The may deliver their shoddy work, that is not be to their full ability, late if at all. Potentially creating resentment in other team members. Hindering fruitful collaboration and negatively affecting the progress of the company.

A high self-actualised leader with low self-actualised staff is likely to spend excessive time trying to help and encourage them for little reward. Leading to friction, unhappy staff and unhappy leaders.

A low self-actualised leader, managing high self-actualised staff, may struggle to motivate and inspire their team. It is possible that a highly self-directed and motivated staff might feel unsupported by such a leader.

Improving Motivation and Success

The above examples are only some ideas of how self-actualisation might impact on different individuals and teams within an organisation. Addressing some of these challenges can be a very worthwhile exercise for both the individual and the organisation. Having staff in alignment with the organisational values and mission is always going to be better than a team who is not.

If you feel that this is an area that you or someone you know may want to work on, then help is at hand.
On completion of the emotional intelligence assessment, we will work together to understand where you may sit on each of the subscales of EI. We can then work with you to increase the specific areas that you feel will have the most immediate and positive impact in your life.

The emotional intelligence assessment is done online and followed up with a face-to-face coaching session, which can be done via Zoom or in person.
Working on one’s EI can lead to significant positive results in all areas of life. Not only making one over all happier, but more effective and approachable.
It all starts with a simple yet immensely powerful online assessment.

To find out more about how your organization can benefit, contact us today for a no-obligation conversation.