A lot has been written about servant leadership, as well it should. But tied with that is an important idea that I believe gets lost: Leadership is stewardship.
Definition of stewardship
1: the office, duties, and obligations of a steward
2: the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care
“Stewardship.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
Stewardship is an even more daunting description of leadership, in my opinion. As the definition shows, our teams have been entrusted to us, to be cared for. To be a steward requires us to lead with humility. It is truly not about “us” as the leader. Even more extreme, “your team” is not yours. “Entrusted” does not designate ownership.
Sadly, no one explains this for leaders. Too many leaders, new and experienced, have the roles flipped and direct the actions of the team to take care of the leader. When leaders see themselves as more important than the team, the focus shifts from the people to meetings the numbers. Leaders become the center of attention.
But the concept of stewardship shouldn’t frighten a person who believes their leadership is to make a difference in the lives and careers of the team they have been given. If anything it is a great opportunity, to give everything we know to build a new generation of leaders…..leaders that can be given back to the organization that gave them to us as a return on an investment of trust in our stewardship.
As Simon Sinek describes in “Leaders Eat Last”:
“What makes a good leader is that they eschew the spotlight in favor of spending time and energy to do what they need to do to support and protect their people.”
So even if you have never had a stewardship-style of leadership modeled for you, the great thing is you can make a choice to embrace this idea. Listen empathetically. Share what you know. Connect people with learning opportunities. Focus your team on a bigger purpose than satisfying only your team’s goals. It is a journey, but one that will we were all called to when we were entrusted to care for our team. Small steps. Show your team you care. And when they see that you are not doing it for any return other than to see them grow, they will pour everything they have into helping to protect you in return.
Here are this week’s 5 for 5 articles:
Want to Be More Productive? Sit Next to Someone Who Is – by Jason Corsello and Dylan Minor (H/T Adam Grant)
- SO WHAT: Our work environment has a huge impact on how we work – so apparently does our neighbor
Things You Can Control – by Ruben Chavez (H/T: Swiss Miss)
- SO WHAT: This does need to be in poster form.
The two vocabularies (because there are two audiences) – by Seth Godin
- SO WHAT: Just having gone through a pitch that didn’t get traction, it is critical to know which audience you are talking with
It Only Takes 7 Words to Create the Last Work-From-Home Policy You’ll Ever Need – by Jeff Haden
- SO WHAT: With more remote workers, leaders need to boil expectations down to these simple words
How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity – by Ed Catmull
- SO WHAT: People are greater than ideas.
All the best, kevin