Are you a Steward Leader or a Servant Leader?

May 11, 2022 | Leadership

Recently I was asked a question: How would you personally define Steward Leadership?

Hmm. This might sound like a twist on servant leadership – a new social media prop to recreate something and sell more books, but it is not.

This is real and something we often overlook.

Is there a difference between “Steward Leadership” and “Servant Leadership.”

Yes there is.

Steward leadership is one of many forms of leadership, yet when we dive deep, we realize it is the pinnacle for all forms of governance, management, and leadership.

At first glance, it seems to have evolved over the centuries.

Modern philosophies tend to spend a lot of time and energy on the popular “servant” or “transactional” leadership styles yet, as we study the historical narratives, we discover Steward Leadership was the foundational model for all forms of leadership. It is here where we rest our hopes for a better future.

Unlike other forms of governance and direction, Steward Leadership is based on the foundation of “relationship”. It is the special bond between the Steward, and the Owner; the one who’s mission the steward is charged to fulfill.

In Kent Wilsons work, Steward Leadership in the Non-Profit Organization, he states that the common goal of a steward is to grow the resources of the owner in accordance with their instructions (or wishes). To me, this reveals a deeper relationship founded upon three primary ingredients: Trust, Commitment, and Courage.

Both the Steward and the Owner have trust in each other. It is based on their commitment to see the mission through along with an equal pledge based upon their roles. To accomplish this mutual purpose and fulfill their individual promises, it requires a relationship based on courage. It is a faith that is realized within the commitment while understanding that each of the characters recognizes the mission, the benefit, the reward, and the consequences.

This to me is the purest definition of Steward Leadership; a mutual respect for a role given to us to fulfill a greater mission. We understand our role and with enormous gratitude, fulfill it to our greatest ability. It is ours to see it through to the end.

As we mature in the way of Stewards Leaders, we understand our role in the relationship. R. Scott Rodin eloquently states in his work (The Steward Leader: transforming people, organizations and communities) that it is a process of “transformation”. This conversion is the key to understanding our only role. One driven by a desire to complete the relationship with respect and honor. It is void of competition and it lacks “reputation”.

Through commitment and courage, we as leaders can face any obstacle if we stay true to the owner’s desires. In many cases, it is simply to serve others.

Side note: Servant Leader’s are just as real but, think of it this way. All Steward Leader’s are Servant Leaders, but not all Servant Leaders are Steward Leaders.

Each has a role.

So ask yourself…. What am I?

For more information, please reach out to me or anyone on our team.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content