Poor and weak leadership is almost always the result of immaturity.
It takes guts to be a great leader — to push against the status quo, to speak truth into the lives of others, and to stand assertively against injustices. Mature leaders are a light that lifts and moves this world forward. They lead us to greater freedom, stronger relationships, and purposeful growth.
Immature leaders, on the other hand, spend their time bolstering their ego and seeking validation, and they often find themselves being offended by others.
Emotionally immature leaders — leaders who are unable to handle anger, disappointment, jealousy, or insecurity — keep themselves and everyone under their lead stuck. They’re always seeking comfort, always doing things the same way because “that’s how it’s always been done,” and always running from responsibility. Growth cannot happen under these conditions.
Emotional immaturity stagnates our businesses and communities, and leads to marriages that lack deep, loving connection. If you’re a parent, your immaturity can leave your children feeling insecure, lonely, and hollow.
Simply put, there comes a time where we all must turn from our immature ways and put our childish behaviors behind us in order to be effective leaders in our homes and businesses.
2017: My Year For Maturity
As I reflected on 2016, I felt a sense of disappointment for how it turned out. A lot of great things happened, don’t get me wrong, but I got really lazy and comfortable when it came to my marriage, I let fear and a feeling of unworthiness keep me from pursuing what I felt called to do, and I was neglecting many of the commitments I made.
In short: I saw a lot of evidence of immaturity.
In fact, in December, I wrote a note to my wife listing the reasons she should divorce me in 2017. I wasn’t serious in asking her to divorce me—I gave a list of reasons on the flip side as to why she shouldn’t—but I ran this exercise to shine a light on the areas where I was out of integrity, where I was failing to do things I said I would do. I noticed that woven within all the reasons I gave for pro-divorce was immaturity.
And here’s the thing—when we’re lacking in maturity in one area, it’s inevitable that we’re lacking maturity in many areas of our lives. For me, it was in my leadership, my parenting, my friendships, and my faith.
I realized that if I was going to create the marriage I desired, be the leader that I’d want my children to follow, have deep and connected friendships, and create a life doing the work I was called to do, I was going to have to get serious about my maturity.
So I made it my one word for 2017.
So What Makes A Mature Man?
I believe powerful leadership extends naturally from maturity. Mature as a man and you will mature as a leader.
One way to measure your maturity is to evaluate the choices you make. The choices we make can reveal to us our level of maturity and provide insight to areas in which we need to develop and grow.
So what are the choices of a mature man?
1. Mature men develop depth of understanding.
They don’t exist seeking only what’s on the surface. They dig deep, whether it’s in knowing themselves, their craft, or others.
They actively seek wisdom and insights into the world around them. By adding depth to their being, they shift into an entirely new way of seeing the world. And this depth allows them to bypass being effected by the little things, like being offended.
By developing depth of understanding, you begin to see there’s more to your work, your life, and other people than what meets the eye. And when you see the world differently, your world changes. And that has a profound impact on the way you see leadership. You begin to see that it’s not about impacting the next quarter, but the next generation.
2. Mature men seek spiritual challenge rather than comfort.
Too frequently, we’re content staying put within our comfort zone. Here, we can avoid risking failure or pushing anyone’s buttons. It’s the middle ground where most people exist. It’s comfortable, but it lacks the challenge we need to grow into the men and leaders we were created to be.
There is no reward for living a life free of challenge, and mature men understand this. They seek out challenges that lead to spiritual and emotional growth, and as a result become better husbands, fathers, and leaders.
3. Mature men anchor themselves in truth.
There is a hint of immaturity hidden within the statement, “I’m going to do it my way.” While we each have a unique path in life, it’s important that we don’t live our entire life on the whims of trying to get what we want, when we want it in. Our way often needs to make space for something larger to unfold through us. Our way needs to make space for truth.
To be an effective leader, we must evaluate our actions and choices against an immovable truth. Rather than having a moral compass that floats relative to our feelings, we need a firm foundation. This may seem restrictive, and it might be counterintuitive, but boundaries allow us to thrive. Without them we find ourselves chasing wind and running in circles without any real growth or progress.
As a Christian, I made a choice that in 2017 I would evaluate my actions and choices to the teachings of Jesus. I believe he is the Perfect Leader. Now, this is something new for me. In the past, I opened the Bible on occasion whenever I felt like it — a sign of my spiritual immaturity. This year, it’s the first thing I do without question. I know if I’m going to mature, I need to be anchored in truth and not whatever selfish feeling I’m having that day.
4. Mature men are purpose-driven.
Too many men are drifting. They don’t know where they are going in life and disguise their indecision by saying they’re “just going with the flow.” There is wisdom in letting go and letting life happen, but we must be cautious not to over-indulge in it. We’re all going to end up somewhere, but it takes maturity to end up there on purpose.
One of the top regrets of the dying is failing to “have the courage to live true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” It takes maturity to live on purpose, to live a life true to yourself.
Take self-inventory. Where do you want to end up in life? What are the strengths you have that will take you there? What values are guiding you? What do you want people to say about you when you’re gone? What is your marriage going to look like? Your work? Your family? Have the courage to go after and build the dreams you have for you and your family.
Live with purpose, and be willing to say no to anything that distracts you.
It Takes Maturity To Lead Effectively
Right now, it seems to pay to be immature, to be self-centered and self-righteous. Just look at the numerous, drama-filled reality shows on tv today. But don’t be fooled. What looks like material wealth doesn’t necessarily translate into spiritual, mental, emotional and relational wealth. Many people who look like they have everything from the outside, are broken, lonely, and hurting on the inside.
Powerful leadership and powerful lives begin on the inside. We must transform and renew our minds and hearts if we are to be effective.
Leadership isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes conviction, character, and courage. It takes maturity to make the daily choice to develop wisdom and understanding, to seek challenge rather than comfort, to evaluate our lives against immovable truths, and to live with purpose every day.
I am, by no means, perfect. I have a lot to learn about what it means to be leader. I revert to immature thoughts and actions daily. But perfect isn’t the point. Growth is.
Are you growing as a leader? Are you maturing? Are you becoming the leader you were created to be? As a leader, you are the light that lifts and moves this world forward. Do you have the maturity to accept that responsibility?
What are your thoughts? How do you think maturity plays into leadership? And are you on a path to maturing so you can be a better leader? Let me know in the comments!