I am privileged to instruct in CLA’s online classes on Executive Leadership and was privileged to develop the module “Becoming a Steward Leader.” A highlight of teaching it is when classroom participants suddenly become aware that exercising leadership makes them a stone dropped into a pond that sends out far-ranging ripples. These effects are part of the steward’s responsibility, managing them for God’s glory rather than just acquiring leadership responsibility as a trophy for one’s resume.
Part of this awakening comes from learning the distinctive of the steward leader approach, that it is not just servant or transformational leadership warmed and served up on a theological platter. This awakening tends to intensify half way through the module as participants consider the doorway through which each of the major leadership approaches enters the leadership conversation. Here is an excerpt from the classroom materials when the doorway to Steward Leadership is examined in comparison to the others:
“We could call the doorway to Steward Leadership trusteeship. Like Servant Leadership, the leader cultivates a conscious identity of service. As with Transformational Leadership, the leader engages a set of behaviors that drive the development of people. Borrowing from Ethical Leadership, the leader acts with propriety. And as with Strategic Leadership, the leader cultivates a long-term point of view.
The unique emphasis of Steward Leadership, then, is the connection to the One who holds the trust that the Steward Leader serves. Strategy is no longer continuing existence and fiscal solvency alone, but rather fulfillment of the mission granted by the One who gives all things in trust. Ethical considerations are no longer maintaining compliance with the law as the standard, but cultivating an ongoing covenant, relationship, dependence and obedience with its Author in order to receive his praise.
Rather than pursuing transformation as a means to an end, the leader is transformed by the One who grants the mission. And rather than choosing to be a Servant among the people, the leader is raised to a place of trusteeship, again granted by the One who gives all things.”
The Steward Leader designation is not just another label. Neither should it be viewed as a competitor with these other leadership orientations. Instead, it enhances and builds upon them, making them more complete.
And isn’t that just like God and all the mercies offered from God’s love, to be where we need to go all along?
- The Steward Leader by Dr. R. Scott Rodin
- Becoming a Steward Leader by Christian Leadership Alliance, Editors Mark L. Vincent and Joseph Krivickas