Over the last 20 years, I have seen leaders do amazing things. A story that sticks out in my mind is a story of a missionary who served in Thailand. He went there believing that he could make a difference, yet there were obstacles that stood in his way, and he was persecuted for his faith. Thankfully, in the last 10 years, he has been able to start a radio station, build a school, write books, and serve the poor. His life has touched tens of thousands of people and he is just getting started.
On the other hand, I have seen leaders do terrible things. Leaders who were entrusted to lead others, but were only out for themselves. Early on, I was leading a start-up organization that was growing rapidly so I brought another leader on to manage the finances. Little did I know that managing the finances was not the best place for this person. I wish I would have devoted more time to discover the story of this leader.
The leader and I had a friendship and it never crossed my mind to ask some hard questions. Sadly, the organization paid a price for it. A few months after bringing him on, we discovered that he was stealing from the organization. He was confronted, paid the money back, and was released from service.
Both stories are not isolated. I can give you dozens of stories of great leaders. However, I can also give you a lot of stories of leaders who have missed the mark and entered into unethical or immoral behavior.
As much as that pains me to say, we have to face the hard truth. A leader who isn’t working on being healthy is a leader who won’t be leading long. As leaders, we all start from a place of immaturity and inexperience while making mistakes along the way. Growth is messy and you cannot grow without making mistakes just like you can’t make an omelet without cracking some eggs. The process is one we must all submit ourselves to if we hope to be a leader worth following.
Moving from immaturity to maturity may be difficult, but it is so worth it. Leading people is a sacred honor and responsibility. Leaders who do not follow the path towards maturity will always have a lid placed on their capacity to lead.
I am passionate about many things and leadership tops the list of those passions. I believe each of us has the capacity to be a good leader, and some people have the capacity to be a great leader. The truth is that all of us have tendencies to be immature from time to time, yet, there is a difference between being immature and having a moment of immaturity.
While moments of immaturity are expected, being immature is not. If the goal is to move from immaturity to maturity then we must first recognize the places we are most immature. I am a firm believer that a person can never change what they cannot see. If you see it you can overcome it even if that requires a lot of help.
“You don’t have to hold a position in order to be a leader.” – Henry Ford
To help you recognize if you are immature, let me share a list of the most common traits of immature leaders. You might be an immature leader if:
You become defensive when people confront you.
You ignore the facts of your situations and convince yourself nothing is wrong.
You avoid conflict at all costs.
You think your ideas are always the best ideas.
You blame others for your mistakes or you allow your team to pass blame.
You refuse to allow others to speak into your life.
You try to do everything by yourself (No Delegation).
You think the organization is dependent on you.
You don’t fully listen to others.
You play a victim every time something doesn’t go your way
You think what you have to get done is more important than the people you’re leading.
You are concerned that the people you are leading want your position.
“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” – Michael Jordan
Leading isn’t easy. Leading from a place of immaturity is impossible. The more you see yourself in this list, the more immature you may be. One word of caution, all leaders will see themselves in this list from time to time. That is what it means to have a moment of immaturity. For those whose lives are built off this list, that is what it means to be immature.
The most important thing is what happens next. What will you do with the information you have been given? How will you apply what you have learned? If you find yourself only experiencing moments of immaturity, how will you continue your growth? If you found yourself being immature, who will you hire to help you grow through it?
The most important decision you have to make is what happens next. You’re a leader! Now it is time to grow up and be one! The world needs mature and amazing leaders. If you stay immature in your leadership then your impact will be small. The time is now to grow up! The time is now to grow internally mature! It is time to lead well!