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 grown-ups, who enjoy the priviledges of being an adult, 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 can also cause much distress to those whom they have influence over.
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.
A mature person is one with a keen sense of responsibility.
It is no doubt that for one to develop his or her mentality and intellectual power necessary to lead others the person must at the outset find out as much as possible, what real maturity consists of. According to Aristotle, careful thinking and observation will enable one to see that a mature person 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 one has examined critically and analytically. A person upholds his or her convictions firmly because he or she is clear about why he or she upholds them.
Ability to judge
In the same vain, a mature leader is conscious of the value of suspended judgement in certain weighty matters. The leader does this because he or she is aware of the complexity of certain affairs and the consequences of making immature decisions.
A mature leader in this case knows that in such matters different reasonable people 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 a mature leader respects other people’s opinions, and he or she is co-operative, makes his or her own study of the problems in proper perspective by looking at them objectively from all angles. The Shona adage “Zano kupangwa pangwa uine rako” aptly captures this scenario. This can be loosely translated as; when getting ideas from friends or others you should study them carefully and ultimately come to your own conclusion.
But the way one makes assessments depends largely on one’s knowledge. The mature leader will thus never develop the unhealthy conception that what he or she already knows is all that need to be known.
In dealing with any problem the leaders must first find out all they can to ensure that they are fair. The leader makes the best use of opportunities to achieve the best for such leadership traits that 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.
Objectivity and balance
In his general attitude, a mature leader is always sympathetic but never sentimental. Like scientists in their conduct of their professional duties,they see the difference between objective reality and what they and others desire, or hope to be the case. They know their weaknesses but they have a well considered scale of values.
Thus while mature leaders accept themselves as theirs, and others as they are, they persistently try to mould their character in the way they desire. They never tire of improving themselves. It is this trait above all else which gains the leader the respect of other mature people, and, what is important of all, his or her own respect.
Impact of one’s background
It is no doubt true that the mental growth of a person depends to some extent on the way his parents guided him or her when he or she was a child and on the environmental conditions the person grew up in. However, mental development, unlike physical growth, need not stop with the end of puberty. A person is what he or she makes of himself. They can at any stage of his or her life, always develop further if he or she consciously makes the 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 a person to reach any intended destination, it is always best for him or her to study an appropriate map of the region he or she intends to venture.
As Guatama Buddha puts it: “The mind is everything; what you think, you become.”