Stewardship: Underestimated, Underrated, and Unbelievably Essential

This single idea is probably one of the most underrated leadership concepts. Yet, when you get right down to it, a leader’s ultimate responsibility is to steward the company.

What I’m about to explain doesn’t come from a book; rather, it’s from my own experiences as a teacher, a small business owner and an executive within a multibillion dollar company. I’ve been a steward myself, and I’ve coached many leaders on the idea of stewardship. Some get it. Others really struggled with the idea.

Like many other elements of leadership, the idea of stewardship seems very easy, and talking about it is very popular. However, when it comes to the nitty gritty of the doing, stewardship can get watered down really quickly.

So let’s dive into the guts of what stewardship is really all about. If you are a leader within an organization, then you are responsible to steward four important elements: People, Vision, Money, and Culture.

1. People

People are No. 1 for a reason. If you are a leader, your No. 1 responsibility is to be a steward for the people you are responsible to influence.  The higher up the food chain you go, the more important this first element becomes. Being a good steward for your people means you understand, care for, and create an environment that supports their success, their growth, and their future.

2. Vision

I think vision is one of the most powerful and underestimated motivational tools that a leader possesses. The problem is that seldom do leaders steward the vision. Often a company’s vision statement is nothing more than words engraved on a plaque that’s gathering dust in some corner of the building. I’m not going to get off on my vision speech; that’s a whole other blog topic! But as a leader, you must understand how to steward the vision.

 1. Know it. What is the vision?

2. Connect it. Illustrate and tell stories about how the company vision makes a difference in the community or the world.

3. Map it. Trace and connect every teammate’s job to how it supports the vision.

4. Reinforce it. When you see someone stewarding the vision recognize it so teammates appreciate it.

3. Money

It is frightening to think of how much money could be saved if leaders at every level realized they are financial stewards for the company in which they serve. Isn’t it funny how we have two different mindsets when we think of financial stewardship? Is it my money or the company’s money? If there are two different answers to this question then I want to challenge your stewardship. Money is money whether it’s yours or the company’s. Being a successful business leader means we spend money wisely. Not tight, and not frivolously, but prudent and smart as if you were investing in your retirement or your child’s college fund.

4. Culture

Yet another powerful and undervalued steward element. This is another blog topic that I am anxious to write about. For now I will say this: YOU make the culture. The CEO may state it, but the people of the company determine the culture by how they live it out daily. As a leader, you steward the culture by defining what you want, then inspiring, living it, and recognizing it.  The culture is yours to steward.

Stewardship is a powerful concept. It requires trust and responsibility. Are you up to living out stewardship even if no one notices it? Trust me, over time they will because your stewardship will drive results with the people, the vision, the money and the culture within your organization.

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