A critical aspect of leadership, he argued, is meeting the needs of your team – however it is virtually impossible to meet the needs of the whole team and the individuals within it at the same time.
“As a leader, you need to identify three categories of need: common needs; distinct needs; and individual needs,” explained O’Brien.
Common needs, he said, include a sense of belonging, dignified interaction, having a voice, and being respected for who you are and what you bring to the team. Distinct needs emerge from the groups to which we belong or with which we identify. These include ethnicity; gender; sexuality; disability; faith; community; and so on.
Only when you have considered and identified each individual’s common and distinct needs can you identify their individual needs – needs that nobody else has at that particular time, in that particular place. So as a leader, you have to see people and their needs in this way:
- Everyone is the same
- Groups of people are similar
- Everyone is different.
In terms of your wellbeing focus, you arealways weaving in and out of this framework. “As a leader, you sometimes have to treat everyone the same but sometimes you have to treat everybody differently,” he concluded.