The Need to Achieve

The need to achieve is one of the more visible needs in our society. It fuels performance in the worlds of sports (Gold Medal anyone?), music, politics, media and certainly, business. We all have a need to achieve. At one level or another, everyone wants to succeed at something.

An unfulfilled need for achievement leads to frustration, disappointment and a decreased sense of self-worth. Just think of a simple goal of getting to work on time and the silly red traffic light that prevents you from achieving that goal. Yep, you know the feeling, but these are not feelings we want our team (or ourselves!) to have.

Eliminating barriers to achievement is one of the most powerful ways to engage a team. People want to achieve results – for themselves and for their team. In fact, the human need for achievement is so strong that, for the most part, all a leader needs to do is get out of the way! In other words, make it easy for your team to succeed. This is not about lowering your standards. Making it easy for people to succeed means eliminating barriers so their basic need to achieve can be fulfilled. Some common barriers to achievement that leaders can control include: insufficient materials, equipment or tools; lack of authority to accomplish goals; slow or unclear decision-making processes; and undefined goals. These barriers choke a team member’s need for achievement rather than fulfill it.

So, here are a few actions we can take to fulfill the need for achievement and better engage our teams:

- Be a resource provider. Ensure your employees have the necessary materials, equipment and resources to achieve their goals.

- Match authority to responsibility. Give employees the authority they need to achieve the results for which you will hold them accountable.

- Be decisive. Use the best available information and your intuition to provide definite and timely decisions for employees. Analysis paralysis is the enemy of achievement.

For more easy to apply tips to engage your team - whether you lead a family, work team or community group – check out my newest book, Engaging the Hearts and Minds.

Here is to an inspired day!


Lee J. Colan, Ph.D. is President of The L Group, Inc. ( Lee is a leadership advisor, energizing speaker and author of 10 rapid-read books designed for an information-rich, time-poor world. His best seller is Sticking to It: The Art of Adherence. Register for Lee's popular and practical e-newsltter at or call 972-250-9989.

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