If you aspire to be a great leader, a stewardship mindset can serve as a fundamental building block. When it comes to developing your leadership skills, there’s certainly a substantial learning curve. Some people seem to be natural leaders. However, for most of us, success is achieved incrementally as we learn the fundamentals and grow into our roles. A stewardship mindset can prove helpful, as demonstrated by research into the practice supporting the benefits for those in leadership positions.
What is stewardship?
Let’s begin with an understanding of the concept of stewardship. Stewardship involves a focus on service for something greater. Stewardship requires acting ethically and responsibly while keeping in mind the good of an organization, community, or group. Stewardship demands that we avoid behaving in a short-sighted manner with our own interests in mind. Rather, it’s about having an appreciation for the big picture and how our decisions and influence can impact those around us.
In a business context, leaders who are good stewards make thoughtful decisions and act with integrity both on behalf of shareholders and with concern for stakeholders. Such individuals have a strong personal investment in their role and acknowledge the enormous duty they have.
Why is stewardship beneficial?
A stewardship mindset offers many advantages to those in positions of authority. Here are some of the main ones:
Better decisions—When you lead a company with stewardship in mind, reaching out to people in your organization for their expertise brings added value. Each member of your staff and management team has knowledge that can help you to make better business decisions.
Inspired innovation—Stewardship involves delegating responsibility within the bounds of an employee’s position and helping them to do their job with a minimal amount of oversight required. In addition, it provides individuals with opportunities to innovate and to improve how they do their work. In this environment, people are inspired to act as stewards.
Greater impact—The practice of stewardship extends to ensuring that everyone in an organization is aware of its mission, vision, and goals. Moreover, it reinforces each staff member’s appreciation of how they personally contribute to the company’s overall success. In turn, this results in an organization’s efforts having a greater overall impact.
Enhanced reputation—When leaders are known for their stewardship approach, it enhances their reputation. In the business world, a reputation is quickly established. Just as is true with corporate social responsibility branding, the importance of being viewed as a leader who behaves honorably and with a solid sense of working for a higher purpose cannot be understated.
Greater loyalty—There’s no question that people want to work with leaders who possess a clear vision and a commitment to a greater cause. Since that’s what stewardship encompasses, others will naturally be drawn to those in authority who exemplify it.
How can leaders practice stewardship?
There are a number of concrete and practical actions that leaders can take to become effective stewards.
Connect with personal values—Getting in touch with what’s most important to you is an essential first step. That said, don’t confuse your values with those of the organization you lead. The combination creates opportunities for synergy.
Be accountable—In order to practice stewardship, leaders must take full responsibility for their decisions and be accountable for the long-term consequences. They must also shoulder the level of responsibility for the business related to their particular position.
Cultivate curiosity—Being open to new ideas and seeking out the opinions and perspectives of others is key to becoming a good steward. This includes, for example, finding out what would make employees more satisfied in their jobs and more engaged in their work. Additionally, a curious leader will be constantly looking for new ways to meet the company’s objectives and be open to experimenting and taking risks.
Demonstrate humility—Humility involves recognizing that you don’t have all the answers and that you’ll sometimes make mistakes. Seeking out feedback, finding an experienced mentor, being vulnerable, and constantly learning and improving your skill set are all examples of demonstrating humility.
Foster teamwork—Stewardship relies on teamwork. It means trusting others to make good decisions and giving each member of the team permission to try something new, to fail, and to improve. Building a team atmosphere involves coaching new groups, valuing diversity, sharing successes, using language associated with teamwork (“we” instead of “I”), and encouraging enthusiasm and synergy among employees.
Great leaders, whose efforts endure for years into the future, exhibit stewardship. By adopting a stewardship approach, they can help their businesses to achieve success.