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Work Life Lead: The Organic Steward


This is a continuing series on Organic Leadership that is pointing to the changes in leadership and organizations that are happening in our time.

The Organic leader is a steward of the company. A steward cares for the people and the organization. The challenge is to spread the attitude and practice of stewardship throughout the business.

Stewardship recognizes a responsibility to care.

How does one come to have this attitude?

It starts with gratitude. When we see that what we have as our business is a gift, then the natural response is to be grateful and be a steward.

How does a leader pass this on to the people who work for her?

It starts with kindness. Not the passive, milquetoast variety. But rather, the sort where the leader is taking an active interest in the welfare of people.

Aristotle wrote that kindness,

may be defined as helpfulness towards some one in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped. Kindness is great if shown to one who is in great need, or who needs what is important and hard to get, or who needs it at an important and difficult crisis; or if the helper is the only, the first, or the chief person to give the help.

Imagine this as a measure of effective executive leadership?

In essence, the leader transcends the organizational relationship to become a friend. Does this make it harder to manage people? Possibly. Some people are just hard to manage. Period. But the residual effect of treating people with kindness is that they are more likely to respond with affirmation, imagination and energy in the work they do.

Practicing Kindness is a great idea,but it is just an idea. It is sort of vague and non-specific. We all know what kindness feels like. However, do we know how to be kind?

In order for kindness to take root in the attitudes and behaviors of the whole organization, a system of personal responsibility must be grow. It must grow organically within each person in their own specific place in the company. The practice of gratitude is just this sort of system of Organic leadership.

There are Five Actions of Gratitude:

Say Thanks in Gratitude

Give Back in Service

Make Welcome in Open Hospitality

Honor Others in Recognition for their contributions

Create Goodness as a Personal Call to make a difference that matters

None of this can be done with an attitude of fear or condescension.

Organic Leadership is not a leading from above, but from within and a part of. It is built on a different perspective on what it means to lead. To lead in this way requires an awareness of what you have, of who you are and of those who work with you, and what is the purpose of your relationships.

This kind of leadership produces,


A Culture of Giving


The Expression of Thanks

Personal Initiative

These are nice, lovely ideas. Certainly a bit idealistic, and maybe even nostalgic. And if they were just ideas, then could easily be discounted.

Consider this. If the policies and the practices of your business became known by your customers, your vendors, your employees and the industry as a whole for these five marks of character, what difference do you think it would make?

The stewardship of our businesses is built upon the reality that all we have is a gift. Someone has contributed to helping us get to where we are today. We can claim it as our own possession. Or we can see it as a responsibility to care for it, and nurture it to grow.

The new world of Organic leadership is not the same as the old world of Organizational leadership. There are many leaders in old line businesses who created a culture of gratitude. This is not a new idea. It is just one that has not be widely tried.

So, my challenge to you the reader is to take one thing in your business, one aspect of it. It could be a product line, a service function, or something as simple as your team meeting. Ask first, how can we create a culture that has these characteristics?






We do so by putting these ideas into practice?

Then we measure the difference that they have made. Give it a month or six weeks. Take two minutes every day to focus on creating the conditions where these actions of gratitude can develop their impact.

Ask, what changes do we need to make so that we can

Say Thanks more

Give Back more

Make people Welcome more

Honor Others more

Take Personal Initiative to Create Goodness more

Start small. Talk with people. Take a couple minutes everyday to focus on doing these actions of gratitude. Systematize your practices of gratitude.

Measure the difference. You will have to create your own measures. You do because they must matter to you and your team or your employees. What matters gets done. The more clearly you see it, the easier it will be to implement it. The impact will be tangible and significant.

About the author

Dr. Ed Brenegar I'm a leadership speaker, writer and consultant who is a mentor and catalyst for change. I assist leaders and their teams in the transitions required to succeed in today's complex organizational environment. I live in Western North Carolina. I'm involved the Boy Scouts, a charitable leadership training group called Lessons In Leadership, an ordained Presbyterian Church USA minister, and am the host of the Say Thanks Every Day social network.

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