All of us want to improve our leadership ability and be more effective in growing others for the quality of governing as a body. Though we may share the common desire to improve, this is where the separation begins. Improvement demands something not all are willing to do – CHANGE! Constructing our character requires change as well as improving our leadership effectiveness. Admittedly, this is easier said than done. Pains of growth are produced by the breaking of habits which have produced the comfort zone and box we currently live in. Habits produce who we are and define the limitations of our leadership abilities. Easy task to change? Of course not, but is it worth the temporal pains producing long term gains? Only we can decide the value compared to the risk. Are you willing to do the necessary work, take the necessary risks, and suffer the necessary pain in order to close the gaps between where you currently are as a leader and where you need to be as a leader? James Hunter would ask leaders “Can your ego handle receiving feedback, even emotionally painful feedback, from others, including subordinates, to better determine the gaps between where you are now as a leader versus where you need to be as a leader?”
Growth and maturity do not occur naturally, it is intentional.
Maturity is the state of being fully developed or fully grown. It is the process of going from a self-centered world to esteeming others as equal in value. Nothing illustrates this process any better than watching a child grow from his or her days in the crib to the teenage years. A child’s world revolves around his- or herself day and night, but through parental correction and exposure to others, the child’s attitude changes to, “This is not all about me.” The value of the citizens and the desire for a better future nationally for the next generation should be our focus and not immediate momentary self promotion.
Improving our leadership skills takes time, effort, dedication, and humility. We cannot microwave ourselves to better ability and effectiveness. It is a slow-cooking process of development; no one arrives at it overnight. We arrive at maturity and improvement not accidentally, but on purpose. Our growth must be a lifestyle of diligence in creating the future with each decision we make. No one arrives at the top of a mountain accidentally and wonders, “How did this happen?” Reaching the top takes effort, planning, and intent. Circumventing this process is like building on sand. With time, we can dig below the sand and hit rock. But if impatience is the route we take, then we will deceive ourselves and hurriedly build on top of that which should have been removed. Leadership maturity should be a goal of life. We don’t think of it as a goal; we think of owning a house, having a career, having children, and retiring as goals. However, without maturity, none of these other goals will truly be appreciated or perhaps even achieved.
What is maturity? It means to be fully developed, full grown, and able to fulfill our created purpose. Maturity is being able to balance the short-term gains against the long-term consequences. Growing up is the process of leaving childhood behind, embracing adulthood and all it represents, such as responsibility and an awareness that we are not the center of the universe. Growing in leadership means the ability to change to better adapt to the demands of a changing society and the enlarging of national purpose.
When we arrive at maturity in leadership, we weigh the pros and cons of our actions and proceed accordingly. Joshua Liebman says, “Maturity is achieved when a person postpones immediate pleasures for long-term values.”
The key to improving your leadership ability is possessing humility, having better relationships, and the continued application of increasing one’s knowledge.
“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.”
Flight of the Buffalo (1994)