Leadership maturity comments by Kevin Johnson, CEO at OnTrack for HR News.

In the post-COVID era, businesses face unprecedented challenges. However, many leaders today do not have the leadership maturity they need to deal with these challenges, lacking the experience to deal with a volatile, complex and ambiguous environment.

As such, leadership training needs to evolve and focus on developing the ability to ask insightful questions and make informed decisions without having all the answers. The goal is to equip leaders with the skills to adapt, apply principles effectively, and recognise the nuanced, small details that can significantly impact their organisations.

Unprecedented times for leadership

While ‘unprecedented‚Äô may be overused, the challenges that businesses face today are unlike anything we have seen in the past two decades.

From climate change, AI and geopolitics to economic uncertainty, increased regulation and changing work patterns, it is near impossible for leaders to know what is around the corner.

Many leaders seem to have “checked out” and express feelings of being overwhelmed and underprepared. This sentiment is particularly prevalent among younger leaders who lack the depth of experience necessary to confront the unique challenges of today’s business environment.

Leading through turbulence

Leadership maturity encompasses a multifaceted array of qualities and capabilities that enable leaders to lead their organisations through turbulent times.

According to Financial Times writer Stefan Stern, in times of unexpected changes, leaders who lack maturity and self-awareness are likely to react in three different ways.

They may fight where they become combative and blame others. They may fly where they avoid conflict and difficult decisions. Or they may freeze and disengage emotionally.

Instead, they should offer stability, trust and inspiration. One of the critical attributes of leadership maturity lies in the ability to ask insightful questions and make informed decisions in the absence of complete information.

In a world where the only constant is change, leaders must possess the capacity to navigate ambiguity and complexity with confidence. This entails cultivating a mindset that values curiosity, critical thinking, and the courage to challenge assumptions.

Successful leaders prioritise principles and practices grounded in fundamental human understanding. For instance, they recognise the importance of committed teams and the necessity of looking beyond themselves for holistic perspectives.

Equipping leaders with leadership maturity

To cultivate leadership maturity, training programmes must evolve to prioritise adaptive leadership capabilities over technical skills. Organisations must focus on developing leaders at all levels, encouraging them to think strategically and involve multiple leadership levels in decision-making for holistic solutions. Leadership maturity necessitates prioritising outcomes over ego and engaging in collaborative discovery.

This can play out in different ways, from agreeing criteria for success prior to thinking about a solution (most move to solution too quickly and then it becomes a power battle for who’s right rather than what is right), to looking for what they can learn from other solutions to create a hybrid solution. At the same time leaders should be encouraged to involve multiple leadership levels in the process to ensure top to bottom ownership. After all, no single body has all the answers, but collectively we do.

Beyond individual capabilities, leadership maturity extends to organisational dynamics and culture. Effective leaders foster collaboration, innovation, and resilience, shifting towards inclusive and participatory approaches. Equipping leaders to recognise and leverage diversity fosters inclusivity and values diverse perspectives, enhancing organisational effectiveness.

Growth and self-discovery toward leadership maturity

In essence, the journey towards leadership maturity is a continuous process of growth and self-discovery. It requires leaders to embrace uncertainty, cultivate empathy, and foster a culture of continuous learning and development.

By investing in leadership maturity, organisations can position themselves to thrive in an increasingly volatile and unpredictable business environment.

Kevin Johnson is CEO of OnTrack International

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