What if you could find one characteristic or quality that could be the single greatest predictor of maturity?
What I mean by that is, the majority of people who have this quality are, at some level, very mature and people who don’t have this quality have quite a few areas of immaturity.
Take a moment. Think about the significance of maturity in a person. Think about how important it is to find mature people for your team, and therefore, how imperative it is to find this quality.
Are you are a new manager? Do you have to hire a high performing team? What if you could predict whether or not the candidates you were interviewing had the greatest chance for success best upon one quality?
Or perhaps you want to develop your own leadership skills. What if you could spend intentional time on one characteristic and this one characteristic would further your leadership and influence more than any other quality?
A Lesson From Hiring Failures
About two years ago I was in a role where one part of my job was to help with the pre-screening process and present a few “qualified” candidates to the hiring manager. I was conducting lots of interviews for various positions and departments. Over the following few months I made recommendations and then the hiring managers eventually made the final decision.
As is true in many cases, some of those hiring decisions proved very good and others were an utter failure. To be honest, I was pretty frustrated at myself so I went reviewed my interviews, their resumes, and the entire hiring process. I wanted to figure out where we missed it and find a way a better predictor of a successful employee.
That’s when I stumbled upon the importance of maturity. Maturity was one of the key factors that differentiated a successful from a not-so-successful employee. It was the glue that held together both competency skills and interpersonal skills. Maturity is what allowed people to utilize their skills to their fullest potential.
That led me to this question: how do we measure or predict maturity?
How would you answer that question? Is there one characteristic or quality that is the single greatest predictor of maturity? Which quality would you choose? Maybe honesty or character. Perhaps hard work, initiative, or perseverance. As you can tell, that’s not an easy question to answer. As I studied these qualities and people who demonstrated each one, it hit me. The single greatest predictor of maturity is self-awareness.
The Significance of Self-Awareness
Here’s why: by definition, people with self-awareness know themselves. They know the majority of their strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots (and are typically working to improve in the latter two.)
They also know how they come across to other people. They know the things they do that annoy or frustrate people. They are aware of those things that distract from their influence and leadership.
The Difficulty of Self-Awareness
I never met someone who said, “I lack self-awareness.” Almost anyone you ask will tell you that they are self-aware.
But think about all the people you interact with on regular basis that lack awareness. The true measure of self-awareness is not found in asking that person if they are self-aware but in asking those around them who know them the best if that person is self-aware. Self-awareness is always confirmed by others.
Let’s test how self-aware we really are. It’s the only way to know the level of our maturity.
In the last two sessions on strengths and weaknesses, I asked you to list out your top five strengths or natural abilities and your top three weaknesses.
Today’s game plan is this: If you didn’t do this as a part of the last two sessions, I want you to ask a few people around you who you trust and who know you really well. Ask them these questions:
- What are my top strengths and weaknesses?
- What are some potential blind spots you see in my life?
- How do I come across to people and what are some things I do that cause me to lose influence with others?
Write down their answers (or ask them to write them down for you). Then, compare what they share with your list and thoughts about yourself. Whatever happens during this process is a “win” for you.
Let’s say there is very little difference between what your friends share with you and what you already had on your list – that’s great! You are self-aware and continue to develop and grow in maturity.
But what if there is a big difference between what they share and your impressions of yourself? Don’t be discouraged by this. Yes, it will take you some time to process this revelation and their feedback. But be thankful that you know now and not five years from now. The truth is that we all have areas where we lack awareness. That’s why they call them blind spots. Because it is difficult to see those areas. Now you know the areas that you need to work on and improve in. You can begin to minimize those areas of immaturity, and you’re on your way to more self-awareness, greater maturity, and even greater influence.