In the past few years, we’ve seen a schoolyard attitude reflected in the halls of government and corporate boardrooms across the country. Arrogance, pouting, tantrums, personal attacks, and betrayal of trust seem to be the order of the day. The timing couldn’t be worse. The nation’s current problems, as vast and overwhelming as they are, appear secondary to the whims of spoiled children, unwilling to play well together. At a time when we need solid, grounded leadership, we seem to be in short supply of leaders, who act like adults.
This bad behavior is not necessarily a new thing. Decorum, self-control, compromise and honor have been found lacking in both the political realm and the C-suite for some time. To be fair, many leaders are honest, hard-working, dedicated individuals. But just as the squeaky wheel gets the grease, the leadership that seems to get the most attention in both the private and public sector today is the most poisonous.
Leaders with maturity have an experience-driven perspective that provides an awareness of their emotional patterns and triggers. It’s the ability to suppress impulse and master emotional reactions. Many of our leaders today have other excellent leadership skills, but a remarkable few can control their impulses and put the needs of others first.
The key is control. Every day, we’re confronted with decisions that have short-and long-term implications. Mature adults can fend off short-term impulses by keeping the long-term in view; this helps them stay in control.
The best leaders I’ve worked with are masters of their emotions. Sam Walton was the best I’ve ever seen. He could rein in his emotions when the situation demanded it or use them when needed for maximum impact. At times, you need to be still and impenetrable; in other moments, you need to be able to pound your fist on the table.
It’s not about whether you’re typically a calm or intense person. It’s about your ability to master your emotional tendencies and reactions. It’s about developing the ability to fit the emotion to the demands of the situation. It’s about staying in control.
Regardless of whether you’re a current leader or an aspiring one, there are ways to accelerate this ability intentionally. There are ways to understand your own character, behaviors and attitudes. Understanding your own triggers and vulnerabilities is a must; recognize the kinds of events that bring out the worst in you. In short, learning how to improve your own Personal Leadership Effectiveness!
Maturity is expressed through judgment. Leaders who put their own gratification above the needs of others lack the ability to see the long-term consequences of their actions. This does not bode well for them, the economy, or our country. It’s time we start considering and requiring emotional maturity and control among all our leaders, especially those in government.
Maturity takes time to accrue and it doesn’t always come with experience, as we’re seeing on full display daily, especially during the current crisis with COVID 19.
Truth be told, we need more mature leaders and we need them now.