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Work in progress

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon an idea that keeps popping into my head again and again. I’m reading an article and (pop!) there it is. I’m discussing a fundraising concern and (pop!). I’m leading a workshop and (pop!) then (pop!) and (pop!) again. It’s this:

Stewardship is greater than Achievement (or, for you mathletes Stewardship > Achievement)

Let me unpack this a bit. According to my friends Merriam & Webster, stewardship is the job of being responsible for something, and achievement is the act of accomplishing something. For me, stewardship puts an emphasis on long-term organizational sustainability. It’s an orientation that reminds me that I’m responsible for the organization in my care – that it operates efficiently, treats people well, and stays on track to fulfill its purpose.

Stewardship strikes at the heart of what Jim Collins (Good to Great) calls Level 5 Leadership, a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. It connects us with something larger than ourselves – a timeline of stewards who have held or will hold our position and a greater cause that’s shared among several organizations. It also keeps us ever-mindful of the future, “the domain of leaders” (The Leadership Challenge).

Of course, we still need to achieve. We must meet objectives, reach goals, and make budgets. We also want to keep in mind that, in our what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world, achievements are often short-lived, may be reversed, and tend to focus on individuals. Emphasizing achievement over stewardship may make for an upbeat annual meeting, but it risks sacrificing long-term impact for short-term gain.

So, what does this mean to you and me? Well, that’s why this post is titled, Work in progress. I have thoughts – mostly scattered – and would enjoy an opportunity to pursue them with you.

When you read “Stewardship > Achievement” what pops into your mind?

Best,

Thom


Work in progress

(Research, Capacity Building, Resources) Permanent link

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon an idea that keeps popping into my head again and again. I’m reading an article and (pop!) there it is. I’m discussing a fundraising concern and (pop!). I’m leading a workshop and (pop!) then (pop!) and (pop!) again. It’s this:

Stewardship is greater than Achievement (or, for you mathletes Stewardship > Achievement)

Let me unpack this a bit. According to my friends Merriam & Webster, stewardship is the job of being responsible for something, and achievement is the act of accomplishing something. For me, stewardship puts an emphasis on long-term organizational sustainability. It’s an orientation that reminds me that I’m responsible for the organization in my care – that it operates efficiently, treats people well, and stays on track to fulfill its purpose.

Stewardship strikes at the heart of what Jim Collins (Good to Great) calls Level 5 Leadership, a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. It connects us with something larger than ourselves – a timeline of stewards who have held or will hold our position and a greater cause that’s shared among several organizations. It also keeps us ever-mindful of the future, “the domain of leaders” (The Leadership Challenge).

Of course, we still need to achieve. We must meet objectives, reach goals, and make budgets. We also want to keep in mind that, in our what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world, achievements are often short-lived, may be reversed, and tend to focus on individuals. Emphasizing achievement over stewardship may make for an upbeat annual meeting, but it risks sacrificing long-term impact for short-term gain.

So, what does this mean to you and me? Well, that’s why this post is titled, Work in progress. I have thoughts – mostly scattered – and would enjoy an opportunity to pursue them with you.

When you read “Stewardship > Achievement” what pops into your mind?

Best,

Thom

Posted by Thom Andrews at 08/29/2014 04:01:38 PM | 


So true! And it applies to many spheres: The environment, for one. And raising kids -- You have to balance rooting for them to achieve in short-term pursuits (sports, getting the lead in the play, GPA,homecoming court, whatever) with your long-term stewardship responsibilities: Supporting them to grow up to be good, steady people -- productive, kind and able to withstand life's challenges and contribute to a better world.
Posted by: Cathie Schau ( Email ) at 9/2/2014 12:49 PM


I also find that parenting provides many parallels to issues in the workplace, Cathie. Thank you for making that point.
Posted by: ONEplace ( Email ) at 9/2/2014 12:59 PM


Thank you for sharing this, Thom. When the AACORN Board makes decisions about our way forward the collective will and shared passion of our group is focused almost entirely on stewardship. The long term sustainability of our project is rooted in our values and our belief that individuals with disabilities deserve our best stewardship efforts.
Posted by: Cathy Pinto ( Email | Visit ) at 9/7/2014 12:01 PM


That's great to hear, Cathy. You identify a deep, unified understanding of your cause (that which is beyond your mission/purpose). That can make all the difference.
Posted by: ONEplace ( Email ) at 9/8/2014 9:08 AM


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