The Path to Executive Maturity

In her book How to Think Like A CEO , executive coach Debra Benton stated that most people think that advanced functional and technical skills are all that matter, but executive maturity, as expressed in behaviors, is far more important. Executive maturity  means “consistently demonstrating sound action, behavior and judgment. It involves managing emotions and relationships during periods of ambiguity, pressure and uncertainty while representing unbiased multiple points-of-view to reach the best conclusions. It also involves providing needed perspective or a voice of reason in contentious or difficult situations.” Executive Maturity rose in the corporate world and it surely has become a need and a lifestyle adopted by many leaders in big companies. Successful leaders are executively mature. Their rational behaviors and judgements are consistent. They are capable of controlling emotions as well as partnerships especially during periods of turmoil. All of which are done while maintaining their objectivity and being the voice of reason in the face of uncertainty.  “Executive maturity need not come with age, but through self-awareness.” How to reach Executive Maturity? According to an article written by Helanie Scott there are several behavioral techniques that a manager can apply to be able to respond with Executive Maturity. Recognizing the emotions that make us reactive instead of proactive: By realizing what bothers us, we become more equipped to face the trigger with less negative emotions. This technique can give us the time to prepare beforehand in the face of a problematic situation. Reminding ourselves of the result and aim of the conversation or project that is led: In this manner, leaders are less prone to focus on the trigger rather than the outcome. Focusing on the bigger picture has a magical way of centering us and giving us purpose through which we rise above inconveniences.  Choosing our language meticulously: Not only should a leader restrain him/herself from using bossy and dismissive language, he/ she should rely on touchpoint interactions. Touchpoint moments can go a long way with employees. They are moments where the leader of a team shows support for team members and provides assistance. They are moments where he/ she shows interest in their lives. Sentences like “How can I help?”, “You are very determined.”, “Good luck” and “Good job” can have a tremendous effect on the employees’ day and ultimately on productivity.  While the previously mentioned tips can help individuals reach executive maturity behaviorally, there are impalpable traits that every executive should develop. These traits will eventually end up unconsciously surfacing and helping in the behavioral aspect. They include insight, social judgment, honesty, fallibility and most importantly, self-control. Additionally, there are a five levels every person goes through in order to reach emotional control that eventually leads to executive maturity:
  1. The first level is when the individual has no control whatsoever over his/her self and emotions.
  2. The second level is when the individual unpredictably has self-control.
  3. The third is when emotional control and self-control are present and consistent but are not portrayed in constructive action and behavior.
  4. The fourth level is when emotional control and self-control are present alongside their portrayal in action and behavior.
  5. Finally, the fifth and final level is when emotional control is present and consistent as well as their demonstration through action and behavior. 
Moreover, as organizations today are facing the great challenges of uncertainty, emotional maturity steps in as a leader’s guidebook to navigating through these difficult circumstances. The Emotional Factor in Executive Presence Emotional maturity is at the essence of executive presence and developing one’s emotional competencies is at the core of becoming one step closer to high level leadership skills. In order to do so, the leader has to identify his/her emotions, understand why they are present, regulate, express and finally utilize them. However, it also includes the identification and recognition of other’s emotional triggers and adjusting one’s actions to better fit the triggers of others. In other words, emotionally mature leaders have high levels of empathy that lead to better communication and teamwork. Hence, a leader with emotional presence has acquired emotional mastery at all levels and is capable of fitting the emotion to the demands of the situation. The Cognitive Factor in Executive Presence Effective mature leaders are able to think wisely in the face of any challenge. Thus, cognitively mature leaders are capable of understanding what is going on not only within their organization’s industry, but also in the region in terms of geopolitics, economics, technological advances and other aspects. This helps effectively create a game plan that ensures high cohesive performance among employees. Cognitively mature leaders tend to abandon stereotypes, clichés, and their self-serving cognitive biases. Instead, they are more capable of better judgments with increased conceptual complexity and understanding of complex patterns. They are capable of tolerating ambiguity by having a widened objective perspective. This means that the ability to pause, distance, understand, think critically, and act objectively are at the core of cognitive maturity. In light of the above, we at ig have created an online learning session to tackle the attributes of mature leaders and explore critical skill sets openly.  This program allows participants to:
  • Define what is Executive maturity 
  • Practice empathy as a strategic action 
  • Demonstrate executive presence through clear communication 
  • Embrace agility and acquire it as a state of mind 
  • Drive engagement and performance through forward thinking 
To wrap up, Executive Maturity is now, more than ever, a skill that is very much needed in the corporate world. Not only will the leader and the business itself benefit, but the employees will also have a model to look up to and learn from. This paves the way for employees to become emotionally intelligent and executively mature leaders of the future. To acquire this skill, it is preferable for individuals to develop self-awareness in order to identify trigger warnings, develop self control, focus on the outcome, and finally: be consistent. This includes demonstrating integrity, trustworthiness, poise, empathy, patience, forward thinking as well as agility.  
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