THE most tragic fact of human existence is that while physical maturity for normal people develops naturally and automatically with the passage of time and normal consumption of food, mental maturity does not come so easily.
A large number of people who have the physique and age of adults and are thus in possession of adult status and privileges, are not mentally mature.
Like Harry A. Overstreet in The Mature Mind observes, “The most dangerous members of our society are those grown ups whose powers of influence are adults but whose motives and responses are infantile.” It thus goes without saying that, adults who are incapable of carrying out their duties and obligations with a proper sense of responsibility cannot only give themselves unnecessary trouble, but also cause much distress to those whom they have influence upon.
Unfortunately, some of these adults are in leadership positions. At the heart of leadership is the ability to influence, motivate, and inspire others through direct or indirect ways to achieve organisational goals. This art of rallying everyone to the same destination requires the appropriate intellect and requisite maturity.
It is no doubt that for a man to develop his mentality and intellectual power necessary to lead others, he must at the outset find out as much as he can what real maturity consists of.
According to Aristotle, careful thinking and observation will enable one to see that a mature man is one with a keen sense of responsibility and a conscious awareness of what is proper.
Equipped with such consciousness, one would be able to manage his or her affairs in accordance with explicit and reasonable criteria, the foundation of which he has examined critically and analytically. He/she upholds his/her convictions firmly because they are clear about why they uphold them.
In the same vain, a mature leader is conscious of the value of suspended judgement in certain weighty matters. He/she does this because they are aware of the complexity of certain affairs and the consequences thereof making immature decisions. A mature leader in this case knows that in such matters different reasonable individuals will inevitably come up with different opinions.
Therefore, the competencies for leaders seeking to develop their teams include ensuring that the lines of communication stay open between themselves and their followers.
However, while mature leaders respect the judgements of other people, and are co-operative, they make their own study of the problems in proper perspective by looking at them objectively from all angles. The Shona adage Zano kupangwa pangwa uine rako wega (This can be loosely translated as; when getting ideas from friends or otherwise you must study them carefully and ultimately come to your own conclusion).
But the way one makes one’s assessments depends largely on one’s knowledge. The mature leader will thus never develop the unhealthy conception that what they already know is all that need to be known. In dealing with any problem they first establish the facts so that he/she will be fair in the actions they take as a result of the decision taken. They make the best use of opportunities to achieve the best for everyone concerned. Such leadership traits can never be successful without emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is a very distinct trait of a mature leader. Once endowed with it, one will be sensitive and will always find a way to approach and provide direction to employees with different personality dynamics.
In his general attitude, a mature leader is always sympathetic but never sentimental. Like scientists in their conduct of their professional duties, leaders see the difference between objective reality and what they and others desire, or hope to be the case. Leaders know their weaknesses but they have a well considered scale of values.
Thus, while a mature leader accepts him/herself as they are, and others as they are, they persistently try to mould their character in an appropriate manner. They never tire of improving themselves. It is this trait above all else which gains them the respect of other mature people, and, what is important of all, their own respect.
It is no doubt true that the mental growth of a person depends to some extent on the way parents guided them during childhood and on the environmental conditions they grew up in. However, mental development, unlike physical growth, need not stop with the end of puberty. An individual is what he/she makes of himself and can, at any stage of life, always further develop self if there is a conscious effort to do so.
There are quite a number of leadership trainings which can help a leader have some of the best leadership traits. For an individual to reach any intended destination, it is always best for him/her to study an appropriate map of the region he/she intends to venture.
As Guatama Buddha puts it, “The mind is everything; what you think, you become.”
Robert Mandeya is a training consultant and communication inmManagement advisor, a personal coach in leadership and professional development. You can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.