Leaders — stewards or owners?

Throughout my career, I’ve been involved in lots of discussions about compensation for business leaders. Perhaps the most common thesis for motivating executives is “make them feel like owners.” That typically leads to a discussion of bonuses and stock awards — that are paid when goals are met.

No doubt, owning shares in the company where you work can be motivating. It focuses you on the shareholder — who has provided the capital for your business. When their shares increase in value, you have served them well and you participate in the gain. The ownership approach also might inspire you to treat the money of the firm, as if it were your own. Frugality is a good idea in business. These are benefits of the owner mentality.

But one flaw with the owner mentality — is when it becomes only about you — and the benefits that you accrue from meeting your goals. Ownership can become a perspective that causes you to primarily think about your personal gains — and to think less about all the other people who contribute to the accomplishments of the company.

A better word for Dare to Serve leaders to consider is the word stewardship. Stewardship is defined as: the careful and responsible management of something that has been entrusted to your care. That would include all of the people and resources that you influence in your role.

The benefit of the stewardship mindset — is that it starts by thinking about others, not yourself. Imagine your current leadership role through this lens.

What has been entrusted to your care? Are your actions carefully and responsibly stewarding these resources? How does a stewardship mindset help you envision a different set of outcomes for the enterprise? Is there any conflict between being a good steward and a good owner? How will you settle that tension?

Take these questions to your work team and discuss — it may unlock new potential for results.

Best wishes for the new year!

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