Response to: “In Search of a Word”…

A colleague of mine, Dr. Daryl Watkins posted the following to the Center for Aviation and Aerospace Leadership (CAAL) Blog (disq.us/5vq6oz): I need a word to describe what I am thinking here. Something catchy (and new) that encompasses the ideals… that leadership has to be a shared endeavor to uphold democratic values and honor personal agency.

The following is my response to Dr. Watkins’ question:

…the search for a word, which encompasses the ideals presented in this posting? I will admit that the word I have in mind is certainly not new, and in 1965, it was not very catchy either. In fact, the publisher of the book containing this word in the title did not sell many copies, and the publisher actually requested the author change the title. The author was, Abraham H. Maslow, the book, Eupsychian Management; the author refused to change the title, but after his death, a daughter along with editors retitled the book as, Maslow on Management.

In a word – Eupsychia, as posited by Maslow (1965), is recognized as the positive human potential, which could be manifested as a culture, generated by 1,000 self-actualizing people, left to their own accord on a secluded island with no external interference (p. xi). Within an organization where eupsychian principles are espoused, leadership would be a shared endeavor, and the values spoken of, would not only be upheld, but also sought after. Leaders in the eupsychian organization are not elected, nor appointed, but rather step into the role, as one’s individual skills and knowledge are needed. In other words, leadership is fluid, willingly accepted and relinquished as the need for one’s abilities are satisfied. This concept might be likened to a survivalist situation (perhaps what Maslow envisioned), where the immediate need for shelter would present an opportunity for the person experienced in shelter building, to assume the leader role. The role of leader would be transferred to another as needed based upon the situation at hand; fire starter, hunter-gatherer, cook, etc. The key ingredient in eupsychian leaders, the willingness of others to follow, without coercion, and an understanding that there may come a time when the follower may become the leader – reciprocity comes to mind.

Consider the following example: a man attempting to gain followership from an unwilling horse, as the man attempts to manage the horse to water. As strange as it sounds to for one to manage a horse to water, it should sound equally strange for one to manage people to accomplish a task. Yet, many who present themselves as leaders, seek to manage people – an impossible undertaking, if one seeks willing compliance. When one demands obedience, there will be reluctance at best, but more likely a mutiny or rebellion would ensue. People and animals are naturally reluctant to have their wills bent. In order for the leader-follower relationship to be mutual and trustworthy, one must lead rather than manage, when interacting with living beings.

Notice how this sounds now, leading a horse to water, and leading people to accomplish a task. Not only do the statements sound more correct, they are more in line with gaining followership vs. rebellion. When one acknowledges the agency of others and consciously chooses to lead, rather than manage living beings, relationships will be strengthened, and trust is established. “At the individual contributor level, adoption and application of eupsychian [leadership] principles can transform subordinate–manager interactions into leader–follower relationships, and inspire self-motivation and improved organizational commitment” (Martin, 2011).

Maslow (1965) and Maslow, Stephens, and Heil (1998) presented the Assumptions of Eupsychian Management Policy, as a list, which contains 37 assumptions (36 plus assumption 6a), that underlie eupsychian [leadership] policy, and serve as the necessary preconditions for successful leadership and followership within organizations (Maslow, 1965, p. 17-33). “In companies, depending on how those assumptions play out, there will either be a competitive marketplace for leadership, a more dynamic shifting of leader and follower identities over time as members both lead and follow in the accomplishment of organizational goals” (Payne, 2000).

I would like to know your thoughts. Is there a single word? Is Eupsychia a viable selection? I encourage those with an interest in leadership concerns, to visit the CAAL Blog, and of course please continue visiting and commenting to mine. Thanks!!

References

Martin, B. G. (2011). Toward Gemeinschaftsgefühl: Exploring subordinate and manager perceptions of trust and perceptions regarding behavioral change potential (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3486058)

Maslow, A. H. (1965). Eupsychian management: A journal. Homewood, IL: Richard D. Irwin, Inc. and The Dorsey Press.

Maslow, A. H., Stephens, D. C., & Heil, G. (1998). Maslow on management. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Payne, R. L. (2000). Eupsychian management and the millennium. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 15(3), 219-226. Retrieved from the ProQuest database.

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