Human development is no picnic. We come face to face with who we are and realise there is likely a better way of being in the world. We discover that we might be better, and by correlation, who we are now might not be as awesome as we once thought.

Self awareness is like seeing a video of yourself and realising the picture in your head does not match what is being shown back to you. It’s the painful precursor to growth, if you decide to embrace something different.

Leadership maturity is a development theory that espouses that human ‘action logic’ – a way of thinking and acting in the world – can go through developmental stages. Each stage builds on the previous stage, allowing more versatility in handling complex challenges.

Here are some signs you might be headed for a leadership maturity shift:

  • You discover you’ve made some mistakes, and you are mortified about being so blind. But you don’t try to cover them up. You decide to learn from them instead.
  • You feel bad about the things you’ve said and done, but you’re not sure what to do about it.
  • You receive some feedback about your behaviour that comes as a complete surprise. And you decide not to dismiss it, even though you’re incredibly hurt, but try to make sense of it.
  • Something you’ve believed as true starts to crumble. Like the day I realised my very first mentor had human failings. She wasn’t the perfect leader, and she had petty jealousies and sometimes played favourites. This realisation was a chasm of disappointment, and yet it helped me to be better myself. Perfection was not the aim in leadership; improvement was.
  • You have gnawing self-doubt at the back of your mind that you could be doing more, that you are not quite reaching your potential, and you don’t want to live out your life wondering ‘what if’.

Here are some major tipping points at key developmental stages:

  • You realise you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room, and probably aren’t, and that you can actually get more done as a collective than as a superhero.
  • You’ve never been busier, but you know you are not being that effective. You know strategic thinking is important, but you have a hard time getting around to it. Burnout looms.
  • You’ve hit success after success, sacrificed a lot on your journey, but now you’re wondering, “Is this really all there is? Is this what life is really about?” A sense of yearning fills your moments.

These are some of the factors that evolve as you expand your leadership maturity. Explore where you fit.


(of leadership)

Share knowledge Improve results Encourage development Expand consciousness
PERFORMANCE Individual success System effectiveness Sector resilience Global evolution

(on truth)

Absolute Relative Qualified An experience
SPHERE OF CONCERN Local National Global Universal

Where do you see yourself? Is it working effectively in your context? What are the benefits and drawbacks of evolving your leadership maturity? Are you ready for the pain of developing more self awareness? Do you have support for growth?