The term management has baggage. It’s associated with conclusions that no longer benefit a business or its people. Management is linked to controlling people, monitoring their progress, dominating them. The truth is management has become soulless. It’s rote. It’s impersonal.
Let’s look at some data that points the way towards the impersonal nature of management. In a Towers Watson study, fewer than half of the participants agreed that their senior management was genuinely interested in their well-being. Strategy and learning consultancy Root found that 68% of employees believed their manager was more interested in their own development rather than spending time inspiring employees to do their best work.
Hold these two findings up against dismal engagement levels and low trust in senior leaders and corporations, an unsatisfying picture of management emerges.
Management is one of the greatest inventions. It’s time for it to evolve, however. To what, though? Management needs to evolve to stewardship.
Stewardship is a shift in leadership mindset. With this mindset a steward accepts responsibility for the greater good of the business. A steward isn’t drawn to the allure of self-interest, says Gary Hamel in “What Matters Most.” A steward accepts responsibility for the people in his care. Management expert Peter Block explains that stewards don’t feel the necessity to set goals for employees, as if they can’t do it themselves.
If there’s a simple way to describe stewardship, it’s this way: Stewards shape the work context so that human potential is unleashed.