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Stewardship is the last of the 3 leadership shortages I’ve focused on this week. There are so many more, but it can be like grabbing a porcupine. You just don’t know where to start so you may as well start somewhere.
Service was the first one. It’s a focus on doing what’s right by your employees.
Servitude was the second one. It’s a focus on doing what’s right by your customers.
Stewardship is the third one. It’s a focus on doing what’s right by your company.
If you’re paying attention – and I know you are – then you’re seeing how congruent each one is with all three of those focal points: employees, customers, company.
Roll ’em all up and you’ve got your professional career as a boss and leader. We’ve been talking about leadership because it’s not the same as being the boss. Sometime in the future we’ll talk about some things that can help us become better bosses. The world needs better bosses and maybe there’s not nearly enough attention given to that. When I began my career, back in the Stone Age, Peter Drucker and others were writing and spreading the truth of being better bosses. That’s the whole management thing.
You manage the work.
You lead people.
Many things haven’t changed. Many other things have changed. And dramatically. Appropriately leadership is getting all the attention. So today let’s put a bow on this short series.
the job of supervising or taking care of something, such as an organization or property
Apply this to your situation.
If you’re a small business owner you’ll be tempted to think, “I own this joint. I’m not a steward. I’m an owner.” I get it. But consider another way to view it. Look around at the employees. Look at the customers. Look at the vendors. Look at other “partners” like financial suppliers (banks, credit card processors, etc.). Look at all the people and companies directly associated with your company. Now think about their families. Think about the vast array of people who depend on the success of YOUR company. Still feel like there’s no stewardship component to your ownership?
If you’re a hired gun CEO, executive or team leader, you may relate to stewardship more quickly. It’s a big responsibility. Bold and humbling. All at the same time.
Faithful stewards take care of something. In this case, it’s a company, a division, a team, an organization – whatever it may be where you serve as a leader.
Permit me to illustrate using a Bible story.
Luke 12:42-48 “And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”
Faithful stewardship is about being responsible and accountable. It begins with your own actions and behaviors, but it transcends beyond just YOU. It involves something bigger than you. It involves the impact you have on others.
It sheds the light on the truth that you don’t live in a vacuum. Your decisions and behavior directly impact others. When you give ownership (not legally, but emotionally and mentally) to others, it changes everything. It makes you a bigger, better human. You make decisions beyond your own self-interests. When the interests of others are at the forefront of your decisions you’ll make wiser, better long-term decisions that just might better serve your company (team, division, etc.).
A common thread through these 3 leadership shortages is decision-making. Ironically, that’s what bosses do. Mostly. But so do leaders. It’s about us figuring out how to make better, wiser decisions.
Stewardship isn’t about pleasing everybody because that’s an impossible task. But it is about doing the best to take care of who you’re leading and what you’re responsible for.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!