Practice of the Month

Mature Leadership is a Balancing Act and Takes Practice


Leaders’ relationships with those they lead are mature and most likely to be effective when they are “close enough to influence – yet distant enough to lead”. The phrase is easy to remember, but it is not so easy to maintain. It’s a balancing act, and it takes practice.


  • What happens when parents fail to build and maintain mature relationships with their children on the journey to adulthood?
    • Helicopter parents (not distant enough to lead) diminish their children’s opportunity to develop a strong, capable and independent self.
    • Absent parents (not close enough to influence) diminish their children’s opportunity to learn from their parents’ years of experience as they make their own life choices


  • What happens when a leader fails to build and maintain a mature relationship with his/her team members?
    • Fused Leaders (not distant enough to lead) compromise their ability to assess objectively team members’ strengths, weaknesses, and contributions.
    • Disconnected Leaders (not close enough to influence) lose their ability to guide and manage the team — collectively and individually.

When we get it wrong, we:

  • Take criticism as a personal attack.
  • React to criticism with defensive push-back or withdraw with hurt feelings.
  • Routinely want others to take our side in disputes.
  • Take more responsibility for a relationship than is appropriate.
  • Deliberately leave some people out of the loop on communications or meetings.
  • Become so emotionally enmeshed that we lose perspective.
  • Lose our independent “self” when relationships become intense or anxious.

When we get it right, we:

  • Take criticism others offer as valuable feedback, worth considering.
  • React to criticism with an openness to learn and grow.
  • Avoid bringing a third person into a dispute to shore up our position.
  • Take on only an appropriate level of responsibility in relationships.
  • Include people in our communications thoughtfully -- based on their need and right to be included.
  • Maintain a well-defined self by setting clear, appropriate boundaries with others.

How are you doing in your relationships?

Jim Moyer

Jim Moyer
This article was written by Jim Moyer Founding member of Resilient Leadership, LLC
Jim is an Executive Coach and strategic planning and organizational development consultant with over 30 years experience in for-profit, not-for-profit, and government organizations. Jim has successfully grown his consulting and coaching practice since 1998. You can reach Jim at