Leadership Is Stewardship

Stewardship is not a word you hear a lot in day-to-day conversations. However, I think it’s an important idea for leaders to keep in mind. If you look at what the word really means, it implies a relationship and an understanding. The core idea is that we don’t really own what we think we own - we are merely managers, or stewards, of these things. And, as a steward, we are accountable to someone else for how we manage that which has been entrusted to us.

As leaders, most of us would quickly acknowledge our role and agree with the premise that we don’t own our job, and for most of us, we don’t own the company either. Does this reality affect the way you lead? It does for me. I believe we make better decisions when we firmly grasp the implications of being a steward.
Have you ever thought about what you steward as a leader?
We are stewards of…
Time – How we invest our time is how we invest our lives. Good investments yield good returns.
Money – This is often our default when we hear the term stewardship. It is certainly important, but only a small piece of our total stewardship opportunity.
Relationships – The people we come in contact with on a daily basis are often overlooked in a conversation about stewardship. How are we investing in others? How are we encouraging people?
Opportunities – When opportunity knocks, do we answer the door? To squander an opportunity is as much an issue as wasting time or money.
Challenges – If we don’t learn and grow from pain and trial in our lives, we will have failed to steward it well. Stewardship is ultimately about what you and I do with what we’ve been given – both good and bad.
What do we need to do to be better stewards? That’s a question I ask myself constantly. Here are three ideas to consider:
Stewards Take Action – Passivity is not what you want from a steward. Think about the money manager you’ve selected to steward your retirement account. You don’t want that individual to do nothing for 40 years and see how things turn out.
Stewards Take Risks – If a steward wants to maximize what has been entrusted to them, risk is inevitable. Wise, calculated risk, but risk none the less. No risk equals poor stewardship.
Stewards Expect Accountability – If I want to be the best possible steward, I have to live with an understanding that the day will come when I will have to give an account for what I did with what I was given.
I think stewardship is one of life’s greatest privileges. Stewardship is one of my personal core values. I guess it’s one of the drivers behind my leadership journey. At the end of it all, I want to be found faithful regarding what’s been entrusted to me. I see every day as a stewardship opportunity. I hope you do too.[GLS_Shield]
How would your leadership be different today if you saw yourself as a steward?

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Tom Rochford

10 years ago

A truly great message. In past positions, we've required - as part of the contract - that the vendor provide an annual stewardship report. This was in my area of finance but clearly should apply to all corporate functions.
Some vendors did better than others. I realize now that those who freely gave an unvarnished assessment were the ones who understood the value of keeping a customer. Others that provided a very cryptic or formulaic response tended to be more transaction base companies.
Nothing wrong with either approach but it was easier to build a relationship with a company or representative of that company when they were completely open as to their successes and failures over the past year. They did not give excuses for missing something but explained how or why it happened and what they will do to avoid that reason in the future.
Thank you, Mark Miller!


10 years ago

Thanks, Tom! I think the world would be a better place if every leader did an annual stewardship report. That sounds like a future blog post 🙂
Please call on me if I can serve you in the future. Mark

Doug Smith

10 years ago

Excellent post. I've been thinking a lot about stewardship lately. Anything we are stewards of are gifts from God. I have to constantly be asking myself whether or not I am being a good steward of everything God's put before me. Thank you for this post. It encouraged me to continue to do everything I can to be a good steward.

David Sparks

10 years ago

Your last thought about giving an account for what you were trusted to care for is great tool. We've been given a lot. A ton. Opportunity, talent, wealth, resources, freedom, etc. Why have we been given it, and what are we doing with it? Thanks for the encouragement!


10 years ago

I just stumbled upon your blog. I really admire the company you work for and an embodiment of "stewardship" that I have experienced both in the stores and the corporate office. I personally think that above all this is the secret to CFA's success. I would also like to offer an illustration to your points above. I once heard (don't know if it is always true) that one primary difference between amateur golfers and professional golfers is the force by which they grasp their club. Professional golfers allow the club to do the work and therefore apply less grip. This point of view obviously requires experience, confidence, and trust. I think meaningful stewardship may require the same.
Thank you for your work and valuable insights.


10 years ago

Jason, thanks for taking time to comment! I love the illustration - and the golf lesson. I may need to loosen my grip a little. Please let me know if I can serve you in the future. Mark

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