Project Management

Leadership and Stewardship: Is There a Connection?

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

When reflecting on the leaders I have known--some good, some great and some astonishingly bad--one common theme the great ones have exhibited is their sense of stewardship toward the organization and the people who comprise it. And in virtually every case of bad leaders, I have likewise found a complete absence of the stewardship gene. It isn’t that running an organization demands a deep sense of stewardship; it is just that great “purpose-driven” leadership does.

In a post at The (in its “Leadership Q&A” section), an interesting question is posed: “Is there a difference between stewardship and leadership?” The article makes the following distinction that, although simple, is also profound:

“The leader is mission driven. The steward is sustainability driven. Both are needed, and usually they are needed in the same person.”

Hopefully, the mission is to achieve sustainability (sustainable growth, profits, reputation, contributions, etc.), an alignment that should be inseparable. The article encourages those seeking to be a “leader/steward” to “Lead by being a steward, and create with your team, a collaborative, shared leadership environment.” It closes with this insightful observation:

“The Leader/Steward is a mission focused/people focused person embedded …

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