When Are You Mature Enough To Become A Leader?

I’ve recently been introduced to a group of pissed-off individuals who, much to their frustration, have had their application for a career promotion declined.  The organization feels that they ‘not ready’ for more leadership responsibility, that they are ‘not functioning at the level of maturity’ that is required for the new role.  It’s quiet elusive this notion of leadership `maturity’ and the organization is struggling to articulate what it looks like.  Maturity, while sometimes but not always age-related, it is definitely intention-related.  In the simplest, linear terms the process of maturation is about the transmutation of intention from being here to get, to being here to give.

Etsko Schuitema (Intent: Exploring the Core of Being Human) reflects on the following key distinctions between being the child and the adult –  the child in the care of the adult, has little responsibility and is not accountable because it has poor command over its needs.  Needs typically refer to those things, that one wants to get.  Needs based behavior is concerned with getting something from the other in order to gratify the self.  To act on the basis of needs is to take.  Values on the other hand refer to that which is correct.  In so far as they define correctness values define what one should be giving in a particular situation.  Therefore, acting on the basis of values, giving and reflectiveness are consistent with maturity.  And, of course, the key muscle in the process of maturation involves a process of the cultivation of awareness.

Schuitema’s table offers a mature guide to the behaviors consistent with the individuals.  It can help us to define, set direction and intentions for our own continued growth.

Direction of growth



The other exists to serve the self The self exists to serve the other
Not accountable Accountable
Re-active victim Pro-active master
Need based behavior Values based behavior
Uncouth Courteous
Gross. Tolerance of mediocrity, intolerance of ambiguity, Subtle. Intolerance of mediocrity, tolerance of ambiguity,
Negating, trivializing. Affirming, confirming.
Weak Strong
Rancour, discontent Fulfillment, contentment.
Selfish, fearful. Generous, courageous.
The universe is a hostile place. The universe in a friendly place.
Things exist by virtue of their form


Things radiate their mature


Dialectic, analysis Thematic, metaphor

The True Leadership Treasure

I went on search to be a leader,

Searching high and low above the meter,

I spoke with authority that I remember,

All would follow all but one member,

“Why should I trust you?’

the one did ask,

“What have you done to achieve the task?”

I thought long and hard of what I did wrong,

Then rolled up my sleeves and worked right along,

Shoulder to shoulder we got things done,

We worked side by side, all were one.

A mate of mine stumbled, I stooped to assist,

My hand he did grab, a smile did persist,

One was lost, didn’t know what to do,

I showed him how, the ropes, something

I praised them one and all for their work,

All were unique, but I encouraged each quirk,

When the task was done, one did shout

“You‘re a great leader!” they all turned about,

“Without you there to support our plight,

Lost would we be with no end in sight”,

I learned that day that I lead best,

When I get off my butt and help the rest,

To lead by example is the true treasure,

The secret of leadership, in one simple measure.

By – Victor Antonio G., December 2004

About Abner Udali

Forget computers, let's hack into life and make it what we want it to be!
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