Servant-leaders steward 7 things.
Say that three times fast . . .
. . . OK, let’s get serious now.
Stewardship is the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.
Good stewardship is a key principle of servant leadership.
In business contexts, I see servant-leaders stewarding these:
- Mission. Great servant-leaders treat the mission they share with their followers as something sacred. They see the mission as outside of themselves and bigger than themselves. Often – and even in the workplace – they act as if the mission was entrusted to them by a higher power.*
- Followers. Care for followers – their engagement, development and achievement – is a hallmark of servant leadership. In a servant leadership workplace, team members are more than “human resources.” The best servant-leaders build trust by acting as trustees for their followers’ total well being.
- Reputation. Servant-leaders steward reputation (their own and that of their businesses) by cultivating character. For as Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”
- Relationships. Relationships are a key to business success, in good times, of course, but in bad times even more. “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo,” says Oprah Winfrey, “but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”
- Resources. In my experience, servant-leaders in a business context are good stewards of business resources. They are not wasteful or self-indulgent, even when company policies might permit. They assure that resources are allocated consistently with the mission and in furtherance of the collective good.
- Planet. The most enlightened businesses today, and often the highest performing, measure three bottom lines: profit, people and planet. Modern servant-leaders see themselves as stewards of planet earth. Environmental sustainability is now firmly in the collective servant-leader conscious.
- Self. Servant-leaders are good stewards of themselves. Author Parker Palmer puts it well: “Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others.”
What do you think? Have we missed anything? What other things do servant-leaders steward?
And one more thing: how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
As always, we appreciate your views.
Cairnway offers executive coaching, team performance improvement and board development through a servant leadership approach.
If you agree that humility is about appreciating something greater than oneself, you might like this post: “4 Reasons Humility is a Cardinal Virtue of Servant Leadership.”