Four Marks of a Mature Leader
As leaders gain experience, they grow in a lot of areas and their view is widened and matured over time. That is a progressive and continual process that will last a lifetime. Just as the growth of a leader is never complete, a list of attributes of a mature leader will also never be complete. However, here are a few noteworthy characteristics of mature leaders:
- They’re willing to break it in order to make it better.
In boxing they teach fighters to lean into a punch, which is far from natural. In the same way, it may seem unnatural to make the tough call to endure short-term pain for long-term gain. This could mean replacing our software system, completely changing a process, restructuring a team, or replacing that person that isn’t doing a bad job but isn’t going to grow into the person we need for that key role. Good is the enemy of great.
- They’re willing to hire someone who may be smarter or more talented than they are and could possibly even do their job better.
This takes a lot of security, but it’s precisely these leaders that assemble the best teams. Young leaders will often make excuses about why they aren’t going to offer a job to a blue-chipper by saying things like “that candidate is overqualified” or “they wouldn’t be content in the role long-term.” While those can be true, an honest assessment might reveal they simply don’t want the pressure of a high performer on their team. It’s a selfish decision to avoid hiring someone who might challenge your leadership. Think about it: What kind of organizations would we have if we all hired people less talented than we are?
- They’re willing to be vulnerable and real.
They don’t pretend to have all the answers and can admit when they’re wrong. Simon Sinek describes it this way: “Authenticity is about imperfection. To be authentic is to be at peace with your imperfections. The great leaders are not the strongest; they are the ones who are honest about their weaknesses. The great leaders are not the smartest; they are the ones who admit how much they don’t know. The great leaders can’t do everything; they are the ones who look to others to help them. Great leaders don’t see themselves as great; they see themselves as human.”
- They value EQ, and they seek to increase their own emotional intelligence.
Have you ever known someone who always seemed to keep their cool? They could handle awkward social situations with grace, and always seemed to make others feel at ease. Chances are those individuals possess what psychologists refer to as emotional intelligence or a “high EQ.” Psychologist, Daniel Goldman, teaches that there are five components to emotional intelligence at work: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Leaders with a high EQ are intentionally aware of themselves and others. They’re always reading the room, observing reactions, and helping draw out and understand what people are feeling. This may sound “warm and fuzzy,” but many leading businesses believe what distinguishes great leaders from merely good ones isn’t IQ or technical skills, but EQ. We’re each born with certain levels of skills when it comes to emotional intelligence, but mature leaders strengthen these abilities through persistence, practice, and feedback from colleagues or coaches.