Personal and Organizational Maturity

Personal and Organizational Maturity

3.4 min read

Dr. J. Howard Baker

Caring leaders help others to think in terms of principles and measure their own actions based on these principles.

H. A Overstreet, author of The Mature Mind, wrote:

“One mark of maturity is the power to think in terms of principles and the willingness to have one’s own behavior measured by those principles.”

Our individual maturity is directly related to the degree we think, act, and evaluate our actions based on principles. Aligning our values with principles yields a principle-centered life.

The willingness of an organization to think and act in terms of principles, and the willingness to measure its corporate behavior by those principles, is the mark of organizational maturity.

As adults we must develop the constant habit of appraising our behaviors as either immature or mature. Likewise, an organization needs to establish systems that, on an ongoing basis, appraise corporate behavior as immature or mature.

Childish and immature thinking, whether at the individual, corporate, or national level, is dangerous.  Not all adults are adults! Many who look grown-up on the outside are still childish on the inside.  Childish minds in adult bodies can cause great mischief.  Childish and egocentric thinking within an organization can provoke unrest, confusion, fear, and create misery in the lives of stakeholders.

Overstreet observed that the most dangerous members of society are grownups whose motives and responses are still infantile.  Emotionally underdeveloped adults in positions of authority have great capacity to make other people miserable.

In the Halls of Congress, in college faculty meetings, in church meetings–everywhere people meet–we see a mixture of maturity and immaturity.  Some with a chronological age of forty still have the ego-centered outlook of a five-year-old.  Even in organizations that have been in existence for many years we see organizational cultures that display incredible immaturity and a lack of principle-centeredness.

Maturing is a lifelong process. The most fundamental business of man is to mature. The most fundamental business of any organization is to mature.  As Overstreet pointed out, this means continuously developing the power to think in terms of principles and the willingness to have one’s own behavior measured by those principles.

Whether in the home, school, or corporation, maturity is achieved where conditions favorable to maturity exist.  Organizational leaders must be maturing and principle-centered if they are to facilitate the maturation of an organization’s culture.  Rigidity and false pride of organizational leaders results in an organization which is an unchanging anomaly in a changing world.

Unfortunately, the immaturities of such leaders may be so much like the accepted immaturities of the people they lead that they will move in remarkable harmony.  The real measure of organizational maturity is not the existence of harmony among the people within an organization, but rather harmony with principles! That is why the willingness to have one’s own behavior measured against principles is a true mark of personal and organizational maturity.

About the author:

Dr. J. Howard Baker is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas at Tyler. Dr. Baker has been a FranklinCovey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People certified facilitator since 1994, and has served the University of Texas at Tyler as their 7 Habits facilitator. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in personal and organizational leadership, public administration, and computer information systems. He holds a B.S. in Management from Samford University, a Master of Accounting (MAcc) from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Arlington. Prior to his teaching career he worked as head of information systems auditing for two of the largest financial institutions in the United States. He has been a member of The Institute of Internal Auditors since 1987 and became a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) in 1989. Dr. Baker is a lifetime charter member of weLEAD and the founding editor of the weLEADInLearning web site’s E-Journal of Organizational Learning and Leadership located at

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