Capturing the Heart of Leadership: Spirituality and Community in the New American Workplace

By Gilbert W. Fairholm | Go to book overview

Chapter 17
Stewardship

We observe continually that people with a sound value system, a moral orientation, and a stewardship concept of their leadership role can be effective though their technique or style is unorthodox. As we bring spirituality to the work place, a new idea of the individual-in-the-group emerges, an idea called classically (and revived recently) stewardship. The idea of ownership is shifting to stewardship ( McMillen 1994). Ownership connotes possession, control, and proprietorship. Stewardship connotes holding work resources in trust for a temporary period. In a stewardship organization, power is inherent in each steward to help accomplish the stewardship unit's--not just the steward's--ends. Stewardship is a collective idea. It is by sharing equally all power that we become one.

Stewardship is a conception of organizational governance that connotes initiative and responsibility without the baggage of control behaviors, direction, and knowing what is best by others. Many business people no longer accept the responsibility of stewardship, which is, at the very least, to leave their community no worse off then they found it. They see no reason to go beyond mere profit to furthering self or corporate enhancement or to serve as trustees of social undertakings. It is consensus building in the process of developing vision and mission statements.

It has to do with how we identify ourselves in that part of our lives, that community, called work ( Lee and Zemke 1993). Peter Block ( 1993) calls stewardship the willingness to be accountable for the well-being of the larger organization by operating in service, rather than in control, of those around us. Stewardship is accountability without control or com-

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