Imagine the difference between employees who take real pride in a company and those who simply believe they’re doing a job until they find their next position. Steward leaders run a company like they own it, regardless of their rank.
Here are some of the characteristics of steward leaders:
- Steward leaders adopt a “we” perspective instead of an “I” perspective.
- Steward leaders think about the long-term picture and make sure they are clear on what’s important to the company’s long-term success.
- Steward leaders understand that the company’s core values (e.g. financial sustainability, product quality, ethical behavior) can be in conflict with personal values (e.g. money, recognition, prestige).
- Steward leaders align their work – and their decisions – with the organization’s core values.
- Steward leaders consider the short term, but steadily work toward building a stronger team and aiming for better results in the longer term.
Steward leadership is contagious. When employees see their managers behaving like stewards, they often adopt the same attitude. Stewardship encourages employees at all levels to adopt more pride in their work and take on tasks that are beyond their specified job duties. This mindset often leads to more innovation because steward leaders are more likely to come up with strategies that are more difficult to implement—like improving systems across departments or changing infrastructure.
My new book The Leadership Equation describes ten practices that leaders and managers can use to create a culture of stewardship. Trust and what I call “spark” are the key. Even if your company has a long ways to go, you can begin today.