Leadership Is Stewardship

In this fast-forward world of frenetic energy we fail to pause long enough to realize what effect our leadership has on people. As if in some race to complete the daily to-dos, we fail too often to connect with the very people we are given to lead. We forget to acknowledge a simple truth folded into the responsibilities of leadership – stewardship.




Stop. Breathe. Deeply. Exhale. Hold still.

Listen for your heartbeat in your chest. This isn’t just another post in a stream of data input in your daily consumption of more. To fully grip the message in this piece, I need for you to breathe deep, and clear your mind to be present.

The rapid pace we maintain throughout the year too often prevents us from fully grasping what runs through our eyes and into our brains. We cannot fully digest what our actions mean to others in the rapid pace of our world. And as a leader, the consequences are adding up. Do you know what that holds for you and those you lead?

Let’s set aside the poetics and cut to the heart of this post.


Peter Block, in his book Stewardship, gives the best definition of this phenomenon in a business context:

The willingness to be accountable for the wellbeing of the larger organization by operating in service, rather than in control, of those around us. Stated simply, it is accountability without control or compliance.

Too many of us mistake arriving to the office as an accomplishment. It is merely the beginning of the quietly demanding call of stewardship.

As a steward of the wellbeing of your team, your role as a leader is to serve the purpose of your organization. Such service relies on your capacity to care for the means to that end – the people. And not in some Orwellian manner.

Somewhere along the way we confused stewardship to mean that managers were to ensure processes were efficient, strategies were compelling, operations were aligned, and shareholders were satisfied. Along the way we bifurcated from such business necessities the humanity it takes to effectively run a business and connect with customers. We over-engineered the business side and underestimated what people need to continuously do work that matters.


Leadership is stewardship of the people, the work environment, and the levers a manager oversees to successfully guide her team to fulfill its purpose in line with the larger purpose toward which the team works.

It’s the three elements working together that make a profound difference in the workplace.


Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of Switch and Shift. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

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