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Maslow on Management by Abraham H. Maslow

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The Very Superior Boss

The objective requirements of the particular situation or problem should be the main determinant of leadership policy and followership policy.

There is a special realistic situation which sometimes occurs, and which makes all of us democratic people very uncomfortable: that is, great factual superiority of a particular person over his colleagues. This tends to confuse the whole point of the requiredness of the situation, and the kind of leadership which should prevail. For instance, discussion and participative management style is obviously less possible, or at least is more costly, in a situation where five people with I.Q.’s of 120 are teamed up with a leader of I.Q. 160. To talk things out, to let people discover things for themselves, to let people participate slowly in working their way toward a good solution to a problem—all of this is much more difficult in this situation than in the more average one. For one thing, the superior person is apt to get extremely restless and irritated in such a situation, and the strain upon his body is apt to be much greater because of the necessity for controlling himself and inhibiting his impulses. He may easily and quickly see the truth that all the others are struggling toward very slowly and keeping his mouth shut can be physical torture.

Another trouble is that at one level or another of consciousness, everybody ...

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