A steward leadership is a leadership style that is more democratic instead of autocratic. The employees are the center of this model. This leader is one that assesses the employee in the professional and personal growth. Steward leader follow the model established by Robert Greenleaf in 1977. Mr. Greenleaf’s ten characteristics, those will show the benefits of this type of leadership for both the company and employees. Does this style really do what is said of it? Yes, based on the research, this style is more beneficial toward the employees making them into employees that are more productive and want to stay with that company. When more companies follow this style, the retention of their employees will be higher as they would have satisfied employees. There are many companies that have been chosen as the best companies to work for that practice this style of leadership.
A way of understanding a steward leadership is this short excerpt. David just came back from his lunch break with a big smile on his face. While at lunch, he had set up a “date” with his daughter that day after work. They tried to do this once a week as their own time. Once David returned, he read an email that was received while he was at lunch stating that everyone had to work mandatory overtime starting that day. He was upset that he would have to cancel his “date”.
When his normal quitting time came, he noticed that almost all the managers were on their way out of work. This did not help with the mandatory overtime. The thought was, why should he have to stay to reduce the back log of work and the management did not. This is an example of management that is not following the steward leadership style. Steward leaders are one of the best forms of leadership style because the leader (manager) would not only stay but would also chip in and help. They also would be willing to teach their staff everything so that it would benefit the company and by doing this, their employees are happy and less likely to go to another company.
Steward leaders are one of the best forms of leadership style because the leader thinks of his employees before the leader thinks of their own tasks, to assist in the management of the office, the employees would be educated in areas that may not be part of the job description as the need to see the employees learn and advance is great and that by doing these, the employees are at an advantage and less likely to seek employment elsewhere.
Steward Leadership is a model of leadership that was conceived by Robert Greenleaf in 1977. It envisions that thought that a leader should first be a servant. Mr. Greenleaf states “The steward leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.” (Greenleaf, 1977). A leader (manager/supervisor/team lead) is willing to do the work with the employee instead of having the employee doing all the work. They are to serve (assist) anyone in getting what needs to be done completed. This type of leader shows that they are not above the staff but that they are available and willing to assist. There are ten characteristics of a steward leader: Listening, Empathy, Healing, Awareness, Persuasion, Conceptualization, Foresight, Stewardship, Commitment to the Growth of People, and Building Community (Spears, 2010).
This is some of the pros for this leadership style. Stewards are the rocks of organizations. They’re dependable, loyal and helpful, and they provide a stabilizing and calming force for their employees. They value rules, process and cooperation. They believe that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and they move only as fast as the whole chain will allow. And they take care to help those who struggle.
The cons are that this type of leadership is not great in a high-pressure situation that requires a fast turnaround, as it will slow you down. If you dislike disagreement or conflict, you might struggle with how people respond to consultation.
Would you rather be happy at your job and get satisfaction that you are doing a good job, learning as you go and knowing that your management actually does have an open door policy or work at a company you go home from and kick the dog, yell at the children, bite the head off of your spouse? I would say that almost everyone would go for the first option. This is something that is not new but starting to get more momentum, being happy at work. Democratic leaders are the best way to go to get this accomplished. They not only care about you, personally and professional, your health, and are willing to do what needs to be done to assist you in growth and are part of your community.
A democratic leadership would be able to provide you with the willingness to stay with the company as they would be willing to help you both professionally and personally. They want you to secede. There are many people that are going through life working at a job that they hate because they are not aware of this type of leadership. Some Famous Stewards you will recognize are George Washington, Mother Teresa and Ginni Rometty (CEO of IBM). It is not the size of the company nor does the economy make a difference for this type of leadership. It just means that you appreciate your employees and are willing to do what is best for them, not yourself. By taking yourself out of the equation, your employees will make up the difference and everyone will benefit, the employees, you and the company.