Sometimes we give others power over us, such as when we apply for a new job, select a new teacher or leader, or enter into a legal partnership. The level of emotional maturity in these other people can make a huge difference in your quality of life.
For instance, emotional maturity in leaders means that they can care about something or someone outside of themselves. It also means they can deal with reality on its own terms, show empathy for others, and demonstrate self-reflection and accountability. We trust that such leaders or bosses will take responsibility, fix their mistakes, and take into account how others think and feel.
People in positions of power, such as parents, bosses, teachers, and leaders, need emotional maturity because so much of their job requires being fair and caring for others. Emotionally immature (EI) people have trouble with both these things. Being fair and caring for others run against the grain of an immature person’s prime directive to meet his or her own needs first. To be under the control of an emotionally immature person is miserable. That’s why the other person’s emotional maturity is an important factor in considering any new venture.
People in power are capable of fairness when they can step outside themselves and imagine not only what is best for them, but what will be good for others too. Emotionally mature people do this naturally. They feel uneasy when something is unfair to someone, even if the imbalance might be to their benefit. They have a basic sense that other people—at some fundamental, human level—deserve fair treatment too.
EI people, on the other hand, are so self-preoccupied that they instinctively take advantage of others. They’re often oblivious to what others go through because they’re unable to imagine other people’s emotional experiences. They lack that extra viewpoint in their personality to wonder what it’s like for the person who is being treated unfairly. As long as it’s not happening to them, they have no incentive to stand in someone else’s shoes.
They may try to act concerned, but inevitably EI bosses, leaders, or business associates will do something so surprisingly egocentric that you realize how little they consider the welfare of other people. This trait usually comes out when a big issue is at stake, but you can be sure there were countless little signs earlier when they showed their absence of caring.
When we feel cared for, it creates an atmosphere of security and empowerment. To be our best, we need to feel that people who have power over us can handle reality, treat us fairly, and feel for what we’re going through. These abilities originate solely from the other person’s level of emotional maturity. For the emotionally mature boss or leader, we are all in this together. For the emotionally immature, we are all in it for them.
When you are considering a commitment to people who will have a measure of control over your life, look at the following: Are they realistic enough? Do they show fairness, especially in the little things? Do you feel cared about in a basic human sense? Do they listen to your point of view as well? If you are working with people like this, you will get the best out of yourself because you will feel safe and secure.
Fairness, being valued, and empathic attunement bring out our best talents and energies. Emotional maturity brings contentment, not only to the people who have it, but also to the people who must live around them. When you partner with people who can care about you, everyone is lifted up together. You are more than a means to someone else’s success. When it’s necessary to grant power to others, make sure you give it to those who want to protect your well-being along with their own.