How To Cultivate A Culture Of Stewardship In Your Organization
The people who lead the fastest and best-performing companies don’t see the world’s problems, opportunities, rewards and costs through the lens of what these things mean to them. They understand that true happiness and satisfaction come when we focus on others. They are, at heart, caregivers who see their purpose as being the best stewards of the resources, both tangible and intangible, that have been entrusted to them and making sure that all assets are used efficiently, effectively and profitably.
Stewards share the understanding that their work and their effort are mostly about other people: inspiring them, celebrating them, serving them and genuinely liking them. They also have a humble understanding that their mission is to improve the well-being of five different groups: workers, customers, vendors and suppliers, investors and owners, and society.
A steward’s purpose in a productive company is to cultivate assets and grow them successfully for the benefit of employees, customers, investors, suppliers and society. Assets are both tangible things like equipment, patents and customers and intangible things like how-to knowledge, brand reputation and great relationships. Stewards look to improve such assets through thoughtful action, sowing the right seeds, adding necessary nutrients to the environment, removing things that inhibit growth, reducing resistance and generally advancing the potential growth of the firm so they can provide a good return on investment for those
same five groups.
Stewards starve the wolf of negativity, cynicism and bureaucracy. In contrast, they feed the wolf of adaptability and respect.
Adaptability: Jim Ryan, Grainger CEO: “You have to adapt to customers. Anything they buy from us they can go down the street and buy from someone else,” he says. “We live and die based on our ability to deliver better and exceed expectations. But expectations are a moving target. The needs of customers change, behavior changes and the competitive environment changes. The challenge is to keep the cornerstones of our culture strong while we flex,
adapt and grow.”
Respect: Showing respect starts with what you believe is going on inside other people’s heads. Do you believe most people are trustworthy? Do they like responsibility, or do they shirk it? Do you think most people prefer to work rather than sit idle? Do they want meaning from their daily work, or is it just about a paycheck for most of them? Do they like to learn, or is that just too hard? Finally, do you believe most people will resist or embrace adapting and bettering themselves? Your beliefs influence how you communicate, what you read between the lines,
and the respect or lack of respect that is implied when you communicate freely or cut off any input.
It’s time for you to ask yourself two important questions. The answers will reveal not only the real you but also how ready you are to lead a productive company that will be able to withstand the tests of the marketplace and of time.
1. Is everything mostly about you or mostly about others?
2. Are you ready to be a good steward in everything you do?
If you decide that you’re prepared to be a good steward in all you do and everything you undertake, the only Fast Task you need to do is to pick one time every day to briefly renew the promise you’ve made to yourself and say,“I will be a good steward in all that I do.”