As a leader, how often do you challenge yourself to steward well what you’ve been given? Be honest, how often do you even consider yourself a steward in the position you are in?
As leaders, it’s easy to view ourselves as owners. We started a company. We possess a title. We earned our position. We run the show. Yet, we all end up where we are because at some point we received; whether it was support from a family member or friend, sage advice from a mentor, or we grew up in circumstances that motivated us to seek differently – to change the trajectory of our lives to be something others didn’t expect from us given our circumstances and environment.
I think this shift in mindset is absolutely crucial in the life of a leader. When we see ourselves as receivers we shift our responsibilty from dominion to stewardship. Instead of controlling and managing our stuff – the day-to-day needs and demands – we become responsible for the gifts, opportunities, and people with which we’ve been entrusted.
So, why is this important – this idea of shaping our leadership identity around being stewards rather than owners?
1) Owners take possession. Stewards take ownership.
Ownership indicates responsibility and accountability. Stewards take the time to learn, know, and invest in what they’ve taken ownership of.
2) Owners are reactive. Stewards are purposeful.
Serving as a steward requires patience. It necessitates discipline in reflecting on our thoughts, actions, feelings, and attitudes in order to increase self and other awareness. It means owning what we say and what we do regardless of the outcome.
3) Owners withhold. Stewards collaborate.
When we see ourselves as stewards we are now shared partners. Healthy partnerships require trust in order to fully utilize the skills, expertise, and experience of the people we invest with.
An ancient Greek proverb put it this way. “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
Greater than leaders create legacy when they challenge themselves to be stewards.