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How do inclusivity and stewardship affect leadership?

Stewardship isn't about leaders being ‘in control’ and having all the answers, it’s about boosting empowerment and accountability for all.
Colleagues laughing at a desk with laptops, notebooks and pens in front of them.
© Bailey & French Ltd.

Self-awareness has been an important focus in leadership development for decades. Just like self-awareness, the awareness of others is vital for effective, human leadership. Each individual is unique and complex with their own strengths, weaknesses, aspirations and values. We can always know others better. Caring about and being curious about other people helps us to lead them with compassion, skill and insight.

The benefits of strong other awareness in leadership

  • Truly knowing our colleagues means we can better meet their needs, boosting engagement, growth and followship.
  • Just as a conductor needs to connect deeply with an orchestra to create an amazing musical performance, leaders need to be closely attuned to their people to create a high performing team.
  • People who feel understood are more likely to feel respected and to trust their leaders. This strengthens relationships.
  • Knowing others better helps us better develop current and future leaders. This supports the future success of the organisation.
  • Noticing others’ response to your actions and behaviours aids self-awareness.

The role of stewardship in leadership

The original meaning of the word ‘steward’ is ‘house guardian’. Knowing this helps in understanding what it means to be a leader who is skilled at stewardship. You are the caring guardian of the organisation, looking after it and those within it, contributing to the greater good.

Leading effectively means setting ego to one side. The most meaningful work we can do is for others, not for ourselves. Stewardship requires a strong commitment to serving the needs of others.

Stewardship is less about leadership and management and more about partnerships. If our workplace is to be healthy and stable in our VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world, then we need to build strong, meaningful relationships within the organisation and the broader system in which we operate.

Stewardship is not about leaders being ‘in control’ and having all the answers. Rather, it’s about boosting empowerment and accountability for all. An example could be giving people on the frontline the autonomy to choose how to serve a customer.

© Bailey & French Ltd.
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