Is Direct Leadership = Stewardship?

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Someone Popped a Question

Don’t you love it when someone asks you a truly great question? This happened to me just recently. The question was “Is your Direct Leadership® model a stewardship approach?”

Stewardship - a Familiar Term that has Re-emerged

The term stewardship in an organizational context was first launched around the turn of the milennium. At the time, it didn’t really catch on. I believe that it was simply too early. However, recently the term has begun to show up again. And now as a response to an increasing need for changing the way we see employeeship and leadership.

What Does Stewardship Mean?

When you look up the term stewardship, you find explanations that revolve around two things:

  • Taking responsibility
  • Caring about others and your impact on those others

It follows, that a stewardship oriented leader is someone who interprets the leadership responsibility as a way to contribute to both organizational and employee thriving. 

A Shift in the Way Leadership is Seen

The 2020 pandemic-year and the ensuing surge of remote work/working from home have shown to leaders and employees 

  • that most people work very responsibly for longer periods without a physical supervisory presence
  • that traditional perceptions of leader- and employeeship are insufficient

Therefore, a new take on both employee- and leadership is inevitable.

This new take is a shift away from leaders who view employees as merely resources. As “pawns” that must be persuaded to comply with whatever gets cascaded down the hierarchy. Toward leaders who define their leadership responsibilities as “nurturing and supporting” people. In such a way that people thrive while contributing their particular skills and their engagement to the team they are part of. 

An Appealing Term to a Population Tired of Being Pushed Around

It has long been obvious that classic leadership, more concerned about top-down compliance isn’t working anymore. An increasingly educated workforce are not "pawns" in somebody else's game. They are individuals who have “signed a contract” to carry out a certain chunk of that organization’s work. And they don’t need someone higher in the hierarchy to convince or control them into compliance. From a leader they require help to allow them to perform at their best. 

In fact, some employees resent classic leadership so much, that they hesitate when asked to take leadership positions themselves. They don’t want to take on a role that they themselves have loathed. To them, the idea of leadership defined as a kind of stewardship sends a completely different signal. The signal that the job means helping some fraction of their colleagues to do THEIR jobs better. This shift hasn’t happened overnight. The global working-from-home period was just the tipping point. 

So... Is Our Model in fact a "Stewardship Approach”? 

Oh Yes, Very Much So!

In fact, Direct Leadership® is Probably the Most Concrete, Pragmatic and Operational Stewardship Model Around

How can I claim this?

Because Direct Leadership® revolves around a set of employee deliverables. A generic version of what every employee commits to when joining an organisation. And because it teaches a leadership that means supporting and nurturing a group of employees in shouldering these responsibilities. 

And it isn’t just a model. It’s a method, that may be applied from day 1. In other words, we teach leaders precisely what they must do when they wish to transform an attitude of stewardship into meaningful day-to-day interaction with employees.

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