Stewardship is derived from the word “steward,” a term used to describe someone who cares for or manages people, processes, events, things, etc. Peter Block defined stewardship as “holding something in trust for another.”
According to Robert Greenleaf, Servant Leaders must be great stewards if they are to successfully lead.
- Servant leaders care more and control less.
Larry Spears notes, “Servant-leadership, like stewardship, assumes first and foremost a commitment to serving the needs of others. It also emphasizes the use of openness and persuasion rather than control.”
“Control” isn’t just represented by the red-faced boss who pounds on a desk when things don’t go his or her way. Zero control also indicates lack of caring for those within your circle of influence. In essence, the two extremes of “I micro-manage everything you do,” and “I don’t have time to notice anything you do” greatly diminishes the likelihood of individuals within an organization finding a “sweet spot” within which to thrive.
Genuinely showing that you care about others is one of the most powerful actions any leader can model.
- Servant leaders understand they are entrusted with that which they do not own.
Servant leaders care for people and possessions. They do not carelessly toss people aside (especially those within their circles of influence), nor do they use equipment, resources, budgets, etc., carelessly. This is especially important to realize in local government. A government owns nothing. We simply care for and manage that which belongs to the public.
- Servant leaders leave a legacy.
A legacy is defined as, “A thing handed down by a predecessor.” Servant Leaders believe in “handing down” knowledge, skills, abilities, insights, and wisdom. They are not as concerned about reputation as they are character.
Stewardship asks servant leaders to become accountable for an organization’s outcomes for the greater good. Along the way, Servant leaders express genuine care without the need to scheme or control.
Can you imagine how different our world would be if we had more leaders like that?