What Makes Steward Leadership Unique
Steward leadership isn’t just a new name for other traditional approaches to leading the for-profit or nonprofit organization. And it isn’t just a slight variation of servant leadership. It is unique approach to leading that is one of the oldest biblical models as well as one of the newest leadership approaches to be recently articulated. Steward leadership is unique for the following reasons.
Steward leadership is identity-based.
With the exception of servant leadership, almost no other model or approach to leadership is based on an identity that defines how the leader views him/herself and derives his/her understanding of self. The steward leader is a steward at heart as well as a servant (since all stewards are servants).
The steward leader understands that he/she does not own anything.
Ownership is considered almost a right in western culture, but the steward leader not only knows that she does not own the resources that have been generously given under her care, but she considers them a blessing generously placed under her stewardship by God.
Steward leaders develop an intimate relationship with the owner.
Because steward leaders know that they are managing the resources under their care on behalf of the owner, they develop an ongoing relationship with God (the ultimate Owner) and stakeholders in order to know their goals and objectives for the resources. This relationship is what makes a steward leader unique among a world of mostly “owner-leaders.”
Steward leaders embrace accountability.
Stewards don’t just hold themselves accountable for how they are managing the resources because they have to…they embrace accountability as one of the expressions of their close relationship with the owner(s). They communicate with openness, frequency, and humility about the state of their stewardship.
Steward leaders excel at managing resources of all types.
The resources that are placed under the care and management of a steward go way beyond the traditional “time, talent and treasure.” They may include spiritual resources (such as the gospel), human resources, organizational competencies, relationships, and even power as a resource. Stewards are constantly learning how to better sustain, grow and even optimize the resources as they follow the cues and goals of the owner.
A steward leader is truly a unique leader in a world where almost anyone can claim to be a leader but only a few do so following God’s intended approach. How much of a steward are you?
Kent Wilson (PhD) is a leadership coach and nonprofit leadership specialist. After running nonprofit organizations for 30 years, he now serves as an executive coach with Vistage International and program coordinator for CLA’s Leader2Leader peer advisory program. He is also co-founder of the Steward Leader Initiative, and frequently trains boards in steward-governance.
Want to learn more about steward leadership? Register for the Academic Experience at the Outcomes Conference, April 19-21 in Dallas, TX and select Leading as Stewards Amid Cultural Chaos for your Intensive Training Institute seminar.