Leading as Stewardship: A Position of Christian Stewardship

Dionne N. Arceneaux, EdD and Helen G. Hammond, PhD

a person reading a bible and learning about christian stewardship

In part one of this two-part blog, we examined Learning as Stewardship. Building off that content, part two focuses on stewardship through the lens of conscious capitalism with a focus on the constructs of ethics, entrepreneurship and servant leadership.

As believers, our mindset is that all that we are, and all that we have, and all that we accomplish is because of the power of God within us. This means that He is entrusting leadership to us, the way He modeled it in His ministry.

Conscious Capitalism

Centered on lifting humanity, the conscious capitalism movement takes the economic and political drivers of business and industry and propels them as a force for good.11 The priority placed on leading by serving humankind (servant leadership); and the emphasis on doing what is right and good (ethics), and guiding business and industry with innovation and creativity (entrepreneurship). Building on these themes, one can see how one can use these three constructs as a means of learning as a steward.

Conscious capitalism has four guiding principles: conscious leadership, conscious culture, higher purpose and stakeholder orientation.2 These four principles create a framework for a leader to regularly reflect on how his or her actions serve others and drive the leader toward a congruent expression of these principles in practice.

Servant Leadership

The term “servant leadership” was first used by Robert Greenleaf in his seminal writings.5 Greenleaf stated that servant leadership is centered on the premise that individuals who look for ways to help others are servants.4 Many have operationalized this construct but most agree with some variation that listening, empathy, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community are among its characteristics. Each of these characteristics relates to stewardship, particularly stewardship in the context of “social responsibility, loyalty and teamwork.”1, 3, 6, 8, 14-16

You'll know a true servant leader because they display these characteristics in their leadership style. They create a legacy by serving others and building an environment of conscious capitalism.

Ethics

Having an ethical compass becomes a pillar of a leader’s character and helps build trust. It gives those around you a view of your values. Ethics is a part of stewardship that shows the ability to lead yourself. You build trust from others in the way you respond and serve those around you.

In this day and age of technology, a leader must have a set of ethics that are non-negotiable since information is instantaneous – whether it is good or bad. Ethical decision making and treatment of others will precede you before you walk into a room, apply for that job, oversee that team, serve the community on that project or work on securing that million-dollar contract. There’s a saying, “When one’s ethics are negotiable, the only discussion left is the price." The ethical standards of a leader should always never be for sale!

Entrepreneurship

According to Merriam-Webster, the basic definition of an entrepreneur is “a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money.”9 Merriam-Webster builds on this definition with the attributes of “far-sightedness and innovation.” For this discussion, the focus will be placed on the latter.

A recent article in the Journal of Management Education, "Business Not as Usual: Developing Socially Conscious Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs," explains that the model of business should be founded on the conscious capitalism model with business as a driving force for good through practices that are both sustainable and that have a positive impact on society.11 They note that the results will be more profitable and in turn more societal prosperity.

Learn-Lead-Grow: Revisited

A call to action is evident. As you approach your business education, seek to understand, how you can live, lead and grow your business acumen beyond profits in ways that lead to social and societal impact. In so doing, you will be a steward of your actions, your work, your people, your organization, your community and society as a whole.

This is where conscious capitalism comes alive. Whatever your business is, be it a product or a service, you are not the only provider. What will distinguish you from everyone else? How do you live out your business vision and mission at the highest level of stewardship? Great question! Here’s the answer: by living and conducting business honestly and authentically to improve the world around you; to serve others so they can become great alongside you. Build your business, grow your profit margin while you include others, grow as a leader and lead a high-performing team. Challenge yourself to never stop learning and to use that learning continuum as part of your lifestyle of stewardship – learning, growing, leading – all at a higher, more fulfilling level.

Grand Canyon University is pleased to offer multiple degree programs in a variety of fields. No matter what your career calling is, you will be able to train up your skills. See what's in store for you at GCU.

Retrieved from:

1 Barbuto, J. E., Jr., & Wheeler, D. W. 2006. Scale development and construct clarification of servant leadership. Group and Organizational Management, 31, 300-326.

2 Conscious Capitalist Credo. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.consciouscapitalism.org/credo

3 Dennis, R. S., & Bocarnea, M. 2005. Development of the servant leadership assessment instrument. Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 26, 600-615.

4 Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.force

5 Greenleaf, R. K. (1970). The servant as a leader. Indianapolis, IN: Greenleaf Center.

6 Kouzes, J. M. & Posner, B. Z. (2003). Encouraging the Heart: A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

7 Laub, J. A. 1999. Assessing the servant organization; Development of the Organizational Leadership Assessment (OLA) model. Dissertation Abstracts International, 60 (02): 308A (UMI No. 9921922).

8 Liden, R. C., Wayne, S. J., Zhao, H., & Henderson, D. 2008. Servant leadership: Development of a multidimensional measure and multi-level assessment. Leadership Quarterly, 19: 161-177.

9 Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Entrepreneur. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved September 20, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entrepreneur

10 Patterson, K. A. 2003. Servant leadership: A theoretical model. Doctoral dissertation, Regent University. ATT No. 3082719.

11 Parris, D. L. & McInnis-Bowers, C. (2017). Business not as usual : Developing socially conscious entreprenuers and intraprenuers. Journal of Management Education, 41(5), 687-726. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1052562917720709

12 Russell, R. F., & Stone, A. G. 2002. A review of servant leadership attributes: Developing a practical model. Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 23: 145-157.

13 Sendjaya, S., Sarros, J. C., & Santora, J. C. 2008. Defining and measuring servant leadership behaviour in organizations. Journal of Management Studies, 45:402-424.

14 van Dierendonck, D. (2011). Servant leadership: A review and synthesis. Journal of Management (30)

15 van Dierendonck & Nuijten (2011). The servant leadership survey: Development and validation of a multidimensional measure. Journal of Business Psychology 26

16 van Dierendonck, D., & Patterson, K. (2010). Servant leadership: Developments in theory and research. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press LLC. ISBN-13: 9780230238268

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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