Leadership concepts, particularly aspirational leadership, have evolved over time, from the early twentieth-century concept of the leader as the individual hero to today's diverse range of post-heroic leadership styles (situational, transformational, visionary, collaborative, servant, host, agile, adaptive and resilient).
Steward Leadership is a style of leadership that prioritizes others, the community, and society as a whole over the self. It emphasizes interdependence and collective success, rather than power and control as the basis of an organization’s success.
This approach focuses on the collective development and responsibility of the community, rather than on one individual or leader. It is also focused on creating a learning environment where community members can continuously develop and evolve, rather than relying on the same processes and structures.
When to use
- When there’s a motivation/desire to advance the organization's mission, vision, and values at all levels.
- When prioritizing the community’s well-being from a holistic approach is necessary.
How to use
- Have and continuously build a mindset that reflects the values that drive growth and well-being.
- Provide guidance through bitesize versions of information for collective understanding between peers.
- Having an openness to ideas and a willingness to share, teach and learn.
- Requires the willingness to release control by learning how to trust the community and how to exploit power to generate synergy.
- Applies the stewardship framework:
- Personal Mastery
- Personal Vision
- Valuing Diversity
- Shared Vision
- Risk-Taking & Experimentation
- Vulnerability & Maturity
- Raising Awareness
- Delivering results
Graphic from the book Steward Leadership: A Maturational Perspective, published by UCT Press, July 2013
Personal growth and enhancement: abilities and capabilities.
Clarity of vision and commitment through action.
Paying attention and responding to the needs of others.
Purposefully seeking out and valuing different inputs and people.
Clarity of vision of, and commitment to, a just society.
Courageousness from openness to new ideas.
Being authentic and open to learning from others.
Championing stewardship and the common good.
Demonstrating commitment and urgency through delivery.
What you get
- Community members can eventually become stewards of the organization's mission, values, and vision and this will happen when contributors feel valued and respected rather than alienated and reduced to a number. Synergy will appear because people inside the community will cooperate to co-create and realize projects in a highly functional manner.
- Organizations can benefit from improved contributors’ motivation, increased performance and better overall business performance.
More info and resources
Resources for learning more about the servant leadership framework include
Stewardship: The Core Compass Of Real Leaders
Where on the spectrum do you fall? And might you (and your organization) be in danger of extreme derailment, extinction or gross under-achievement? Most people who end up in the three traps described above don’t realize it until it is too late.