Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Leadership Styles: Servant and Stewardship

Understanding, developing and adapting our leadership styles to the circumstances at hand is becoming recognized as an important skill as so many of us work in team environments. Two of the leadership approaches that I've been researching over the last several years is servant leadership and stewardship leadership.

Robert K. Greenleaf, describes servant leadership as our innate desire to bring out the best in others. As he says: "The servant-leader is a servant first. . . . It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. . . . The best test is: do those served grow as persons: Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?" In effect, servant leadership involves added qualities such as listening, respect, empathy and being authentic in the caring and well-being of others so that they can excel.

Stewardship leadership incorporates similar values as servant leadership and adds a measure of autonomy and trust in the capabilities of others. In his book, Stewardship: Choosing Service over Self Interest, author Peter Block defines stewardship as “to hold something in trust for another. . . . the choice to preside over the orderly distribution of power. This means giving people at the bottom and the boundaries of the organization choice over how to serve a customer, a citizen, a community. It is 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. Stated simply, it is accountability without control or compliance.” Stewardship involves  allowing people to develop their own style of interactions with others and supports having them take care of others though their intentions of being of service.

Both the servant and stewardship approaches to leadership speak to the highest qualities of people by creating the conditions for others to reach their full potential and develop their own leadership style. These approaches apply when interacting with the full spectrum of individuals from varying cultures and ages since the core qualities are deeply humanistic.