What is Executive Maturity?

What is Executive Maturity?

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but of emotion. – Dale Carnegie

In his book, The Maturity Factor, management consultant Larry Liberty said , 80% of corporate executives in the U.S. were not fully mature. He called them “high-functioning adolescents” and suggested that they were mostly preoccupied with covering their backs, looking good and pretending to be fully functional. Similarly, in her book How to Think Like A CEO, executive coach Debra Benton stated that most people think advanced functional and technical skills are all that matter, but executive maturity, as expressed in behaviors, is far more important.

Effective leaders have executive maturity. Executive maturity means consistently demonstrating sound action, behavior and judgment. Executive maturity involves managing emotions and relationships during periods of ambiguity, pressure and uncertainty. It involves representing multiple points-of-view without bias to reach the best conclusions. It also involves providing needed perspective or a voice of reason in contentious or difficult situations. Executive maturity need not come with age, but through self-awareness and -control, especially of/over one’s emotions.

There are five levels of emotional control related to executive maturity. They are:

  • Level 1 – No emotional control over self.
  • Level 2 – Unpredictable emotional control over self.
  • Level 3 – Emotional control is maintained over self without demonstrating constructive action or behavior.
  • Level 4 – Emotional control is maintained over self while demonstrating constructive action and behavior.
  • Level 5 – EC is maintained over self and with others while demonstrating constructive action and behavior.

Level 5 is the aspiration for executive maturity. Leaders with level five emotional control focus on facts, not emotions. They use questions to gather objective data to define reality. By staying objective, they gain clarity.

Leaders with executive maturity are self-aware of their own feelings, thoughts and values. They practice self-control to manage their emotional reactions and triggers across circumstances and situations. They also understand the reasons behind other peoples’ behavior, even when that behavior is complex or subtle. While knowledge and skill help to make good decisions, it is their interpersonal effectiveness that enables them to be good leaders. The more leaders learn to manage their emotions, the greater they increase their influence with others.

Based on the research of executive and leadership coach Steve Gutzler, 83% of the time people can effectively self-manage their emotions. However, 17% of the time they cannot. According to Gutzler, emotional intelligence and self-management are where our reputations are built. How then do you develop the ability to maintain emotional control over yourself and with others while demonstrating constructive action and behavior? How do you develop the ability to respond to difficult people and situations factually versus emotionally?

  • Be self-aware. What people or situations can and do trigger (negative) emotions in you or others?
  • Determine the outcome. What message to you want to convey or result do you want to achieve?
  • Response wisely. Focus on addressing or solving the issue objectively, not emotionally.

Always stay focused on the facts, not the emotions, to demonstrate sound executive maturity.

All contents copyright © 2015, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.


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