The last thing we want someone to say about us is that we are “super needy.” We want to be independent, self-sufficient, strong individuals. The idea of needing people and having to depend on others can make us cringe. I have been consulting with a leadership coach lately, and she recently said that the sooner I accept that I have needs, the more effective I will be as a leader. I hated hearing this. Being needy can feel like being weak and fragile. As I argued with the coach, I was proving to her and to myself that I had a need to be heard, understood, and respected. She proved her point as she quietly listened to my strong reaction.
If you are reading this and are a human being (I think that covers most of us), you have needs. God actually created us with needs. He said that it wasn’t good that man was “alone.” Scripture is full of imperatives that help us address our needs. It tells us to love one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, spur one another on, forgive one another, exhort one another, and more. It is a fact that we all have needs.
John Townsend, author of Boundaries and other books, says that human beings have twenty- two relational needs. I have a friend who says that he only has two relational needs: “Be nice to him and leave him the hell alone.” He truly told me that those were his only two needs. While I knew what he was intending to say, he and I knew that there were a number of needs wrapped up in those two requests. Sometimes he needed acceptance. Sometimes he just wanted to be heard and understood. Sometimes he needed someone to simply be present but quiet while other times he wanted to be respected.
Here is a list of the 22 relational needs:
The sooner we can begin to identify our needs and determine how to address them, the healthier we will be. If we continue to move along without identifying them and meeting them, we can move into areas of loneliness, fear, depression, anger, resentment, and isolation. We will be disconnected from ourselves and from other people. When we take the time to identify our needs and see that they are met, we experience connection, satisfaction, joy, fulfillment, and comfort. We have the privilege and responsibility of leading ourselves well and addressing our needs.
Think of yourself as a finely tuned sports car. As a sports car (unless it is a Tesla), you need oil, gas, service, filters, air, and more to perform at your highest level. That requires attention, effort, and intentionality. The fact is you and I are much more valuable and complex than any sports car. We need to be well cared for in order for us to function at our highest level. When we identify our needs and address them, we are taking good care of ourselves.
Let me ask you,” What are your current needs?” Notice I am not asking if you have any. I am assuming you do and asking you to take the time to pay attention to them. Let me encourage you to identify two needs from the list above and identify a couple of people who you can talk to about those needs. If you can start building this into your regular rhythms, you will be a better leader. Embrace your needs, and you will enhance your leadership.