Personal Business Maturity

Guest post from Jim DuBreuil:
If you Google the term, “business maturity,” you will find
lots of discussions about the emergence of social networks to drive new
business.  You’ll also see information about how a line of business
“matures” when you implement an effective model, focus on the right priorities
and execute rigorously.

But I submit to you that understanding your own personal
business maturity can yield significant insight into why you succeed or fail to
be viewed as a leader.  What I mean by personal business maturity is one’s
ability to manage adversity and change with poise and professionalism
regardless of circumstances.  It’s more than just “making lemonade out of
lemons.”  It’s an attribute of leaders that realize when times are most
frustrating and difficult, that’s precisely when they need to show others how
calm and deliberate they can be.  Managing yourself and others when
turmoil is present is difficult enough.  But when you also exhibit and
model behavior that takes emotion out of the situation, you are leading your
team to a place where better decisions can be made and encouraging more focus
on how to succeed under the given circumstances.

There’s nothing wrong with managers responding to change by
“towing the company line” and helping others to do the same.  True leaders
know when to push back and how far so they can make the best of the situation.
 When this is recognized by the troops, it illustrates how savvy the
leader is and it helps to calm the environment even more.

Personal business maturity cannot actually be taught, but it
can certainly be learned.  It may look and feel differently based on the
organization or work environment you’re in.  However, if you are not
seeking to improve your own maturity given your circumstances, surroundings and
influences, you may just miss a great opportunity to improve your own
credibility within that environment.   

I once managed a department with seasoned veterans who
possessed exceptional technical skills and a history of success in the company.
 This was an internal support function at a headquarters location and one
person on the team had spent years supporting customers, enjoying many of the
benefits of working “in the field” such as bonuses, recognition events, golf
outings with clients, etc.  The excitement in our environment paled in
comparison and he seemed less than enthusiastic about applying his skills.
 Did he leave the field and come to headquarters to “retire on the job?”
 Was he forced out of the good life to make room for younger, less expensive
resources?  It really didn’t matter to me.  I just needed his best
work.  I gave him some time to pout then we sat down to review his
performance plan which was chocked full of challenges, but nothing he couldn’t

I doubt that he was intimidated by my authoritative demeanor
or that his inhibitions melted away because of my charismatic management style.
 But he did accept the responsibilities graciously and immediately; no
drama or complaints.  His obvious business maturity had disappeared only
briefly, and his professionalism now reigned, which made me extremely happy.

Personal business maturity has absolutely nothing to do with
age or longevity in an organization.  I have observed 30 year veterans of
a company that held high level positions, who still complained outwardly about
changes they didn’t agree with.  When you’ve been around an organization
for that long, you really should know how to cope with the inevitable changes.
 Sometimes, pushing back or becoming the squeaky wheel is not negative and
may even be respected by people.  But the person who is tagged as the
constant complainer is rarely viewed as a mature leader.

I have also witnessed a new manager in his twenties offer to
take a task from the director because he recognized that the executive’s time
was more valuable than his own.  As a leader, you never have to agree with
decisions or who will be affected, but the mature professional is cognizant of
how their reaction will be perceived and how others will view that response.

When decisions have been made, leaders do their best to
embrace changes and find ways to help others adapt as well.  They put
forth an authentic effort to achieve success because they respect the authority
above them to make such decisions.  They illustrate respect for their
employees and peers by providing open and honest communication about the
rationale for decisions made to ensure teams are operating with facts and not
rumor or misinterpretations.  Finally, real leaders also respect
themselves and go to great lengths to assess and improve their own behavior.
 Some of the best workers I’ve known practiced a much tougher evaluation
of their own job performance than any manager they worked for.  

If you want to truly be viewed as a leader in your
organization, be genuine. Just as outside the workplace, sometimes you
encounter situations that make you cringe and you say nothing because it will
hurt others or make a bad state of affairs even worse.  It’s not that
difficult to build maturity if you operate intelligently and with sincerity.
 When you conduct yourself with integrity others will recognize it as a
sign of maturity.

Above all, don’t take yourself too seriously.  You may
want to show your team and management how your personal business maturity makes
you a great leader, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a mistake, laugh along
with others and learn how to improve yourself whether you are 28 or 68, have 2
years in the business or 32.  Continuing to improve your business maturity
may never stop and even though it helps to make you a more valuable resource on
the job, as recognized by peers and management alike, it is truly a personal
achievement to be viewed this way.  Learn to increase your maturity in all
environments and you will enjoy something no one can criticize or take away
from you; the personal satisfaction that comes with improving yourself through
initiative and intelligent effort.

About the Author:
Jim DuBreuil’s business career began in 1979 at IBM
and he has built a history of successful experiences in both large and small
businesses. At Disney Worldwide Services, Cap Gemini America and other
companies, he has held a variety of management and executive jobs. As a
practitioner and consultant, he has achieved results using effective leadership
by example, extraordinary people management, strong communication skills, and a
solid understanding of information technology and analytics to meet business objectives.