Which person in this picture is a mature leader? It may not be the one with gray hair. Age and experience have less to do with being a mature leader than some people think. The real key to being a mature leader has more to do with the leader’s ability to let go of their ego in three very telling ways.
Mature Leaders Know They are Fallible
An immature leader will not accept he is fallible. He has trouble admitting his mistakes. He ignores his weaknesses and expects others to do the same. And, he creates an atmosphere where his people are afraid to challenge him or his ideas.
The mature leader has the Humility to know he is not perfect. He has developed Humility as a Habit of Character by accepting that fact and owning his fallibility.
The maturity that comes from Humility allows him to take responsibility for his own mistakes and even laugh at himself. He does not see his mistakes as a sign of weakness, but as a sign of his humanity.
In response, he develops a team of followers that speak the truth to him and makes him better. A mature leader develops trust with his team because the team knows that a leader that is willing to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes will allow the team to do the same.
Mature Leaders Know They Have More to Learn
The immature leader believes that she has it all figured out. She may have been successful in this role or previous roles. Because of that, she believes that the way she has always done it will always work.
The mature leader again has the Humility to understand that a leader is never done growing and learning. She has made a habit out of seeking new ways to improve herself and her ability to lead others.
As a result, her team follows that leader’s example and innovates. They see failures as opportunities to learn. That team will not fall back on what has always worked. They will be a team that is always stretching and engaged in active problem solving.
Mature Leaders Know They are Dispensible
The immature leader believes he is the center of everything that happens on the team. As a result, he sets up an organization that makes him the hub of everything that happens. This creates a bottleneck because decisions must pass through the indespensible leader and thus kills initiative.
The mature leader exercises Humility by developing the people below him. He develops wise decision makers at all levels of the team so when he is not available, the team will function smoothly.
That means that when the mature leader takes vacation or is away at meetings, the team is not constantly sending emails or texts asking what to do or worse just waiting for the leader to return.
A team with a mature leader at the helm has leaders at all levels who are ready to step up and make decisions. The team is empowered to move forward because the leader believes he is not the reason the team will succeed, the people are.
The Bottom Line:
An immature leader can be 25 years old or 65 years old. An immature leader can have 5 months of experience or 25 years of experience. The key is not age or experience. The key is Humility.
When a mature leader develops Humility as a Habit of Character that leader –
Believes and acts like “It’s not about me.”
When a leader exhibits Humility by believing and acting like she is fallible, she has more to learn, and she is dispensable, the team follows that mature leader and becomes mature themselves.
My father, BG (RET) Jim Anderson once said to me,
“The mark of a real leader is what happens when he is not around.”
It takes a mature leader to create a team that is willing to make mistakes, learn from mistakes, and make their own decisions when it is appropriate.
Mature leaders create mature teams. It is the mature teams that most leaders want and the team’s maturity is a direct response to the maturity of the leader.
What are some other signs of a mature leader?
Dave Anderson is coauthor of the Amazon Best-Seller Becoming a Leader of Character – Six Habits that Make or Break a Leader at Work and at Home with his father General James L. Anderson (USA Retired).
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