Leadership and human behavior work hand in
hand. To be a successful leader, you must understand
your people and work with them to resolve their
problems. Each of us has needs, and we direct our
energies to meet these needs as we see fit. Helping your
people resolve their problems will result in a unit that
will operate smoothly and be highly productive.
Human behavior is the result of attempts to satisfy
certain needs. These needs may be simple to
understand and easy to identify, such as the need for
food and water. They also may be complex, such as the
need for respect and acceptance.
Why do people act the way they do? Why do some
people have an easy time, while others have a hard time
adjusting to shipboard life? Why, with an upcoming
extended deployment, do some crew members look
forward to visiting foreign ports, while others prefer to
stay with the familiar homeport?
Finding the answers to these questions is not easy.
In fact, a whole branch of science and psychology has
tried to answer such questions but has found no
hard-and-fast answers. In general, you could say
people behave the way they do for a reason. However,
the reason may not be clear; in fact, it may not be
logical or rational either to you or to the person in
By observing human behavior, you can gain the
knowledge you need to better understand yourself and
other people. You can learn why people act and react in
certain ways. You can learn how to identify the various
types of behavior and needs of people. You also can
learn how to influence the behavior of people so that
they can see how meeting the needs of the command
will satisfy their own needs.
Dont take lightly human behavior and its
application to the areas of leadership and supervision.
How well you understand and apply the basic concepts
could determine, to a great extent, your success in the
Navy. All successful petty officers must have an
understanding of peoples behavior. If you understand
the needs of your people and help them to satisfy those
needs, you will succeed as a leader.
We can reasonably determine an individuals
needs by understanding basic human needs. We all
have five basic levels of need. Our needs are in order of
importance, such as our need to relieve pain (survival)
is more important than a need to be liked by coworkers
(social belonging). If we satisfy one level, then we
work to satisfy the next level of need. This need
satisfaction is an ongoing behavior that determines our
Now look at the five groups, or levels, of needs and
the definition of each:
1. SURVIVALThe survival level consists of the
basics we need to sustain life itself; for example,
oxygen, food, water, sleep, and relief from pain.
2. SAFETY-SECURITYThe safety-security
level involves the need for protection from possible
threats, such as violence, disease, or poverty. It also
includes the need for the security of an adequate job and
money in the bank.
3. SOCIAL-BELONGINGThe social, or
belonging, level concerns the need to be liked and
wanted by family, friends, coworkers, and others with
whom we associate.
4. ESTEEMThe esteem level involves our
feelings of importance. To satisfy our esteem needs, we
must get a feeling of importance from two sources.
First, we must have a feeling of importance that comes
from within; this feeling is self-esteem. Second, since
self-esteem alone will not satisfy our esteem needs, we
must feel that other people believe we are important.
is the full realization of our own potential. Simply
stated, that means we know our limits and try to
perform, within those limits, to our full potential.
These five levels of needs are acted out in
behaviors. You, as a leader, with an understanding of
these needs, can help your people satisfy their needs
and be more successful.
What is an individual worthnot in dollars and
centsbut to you, to the Navy, and to the person
himself/herself? You, as a petty officer, will have to
determine that through experience. Every person has
different wants and desires and has a different
emotional makeup. Remember that one trait you
cannot change is the emotional makeup of a person, but
you may be able to influence the person or situation
toward a favorable outcome. If you observe how a
person acts, you can often tell how a person feels. If
you observe your personnel, you will be able to help
them adjust to almost any situation.