Creating Value: Leadership v Stewardship

Okay, let's get the blah blah blah stuff out of the way first.

You not only want to be a leader, you're convinced that you are a leader.

Good for you. You're a leader.

The question is: When it comes to creating the highest levels of value for yourself and your organization, is being a "leader" the right thing to be? Or is there something better?

There is. It's being a Steward of the present and future of your organization.

Yes, I admit, calling yourself a "Steward" isn't anywhere near as sexy sounding as calling yourself a "leader." Nor, for the most part, do people in organizations recognize what a Steward is or does.

Here's the difference:

Leaders do things for show. Stewards lead by doing the right thing.

My friend, Peter Wynne Rees, the Planning Officer for the City of London, explained it to me years ago when he described his role as a Steward overseeing the present and future of the Square Mile.

As he told me, the City of London existed for over 2000 years before he got there. His job was to make sure that he did everything he could - every day in every decision - to ensure its safety and success for the next 2000 years.

As a result, if you Google Peter's name, you'll see that he's considered worldwide a - if not the - leader in City Planning, Development and Redevelopment.

Ask him and he'll tell you: He's a Steward.

Here's what this means for you:
  • Stop sweating being called a "leader" and begin determining the real and ongoing needs of your organization
  • Begin - now - viewing your organization in timeless terms: it existed yesterday (or 2 or 20 or 200 years ago) and it will exist tomorrow
  • Think of the decisions you're making and put them into that timeless timespan - then reconsider whether they are the right decisions for all the tomorrows it's your responsibility to ensure occur
  • Treat your stewardship as a stealth strategy. Don't talk about it...unless you're asked. (Peter only told me his philosophy when I asked him a question that led, over more questions, to that answer.)
  • Do the right thing. Not just for you but, every day in every decision, for your organization and its future.
Because that's the thing about leadership versus stewardship. It's not about you and your success. It's about the success you create for others - and, as a result, achieve.