Monday, March 5, 2007

Leader as Steward

My thinking about leadership has shifted dramatically as a result of my strategic planning work with communities and regions. Increasingly, I have been giving emphasis to leaders as stewards; a concept I initially learned from the noted organization and leadership guru, Peter Senge. Here is what Senge has to say on the leader as steward.

By stewardship. Senge means that someone (or perhaps some group) within the organization needs to accept responsibility for ensuring that everyone who works in the organization is clear about why it exists.

In economic development, that means engendering broad-based prosperity, innovation, and competitiveness in an area. All three are needed, and together they explain why we are here; that is why economic development exists as a field.

In the "learning" organization, Senge (1990) says everything we do is connected to learning. Learning enables organizations to become successful in achieving their goals. This is also true for ED organizations.

As stewards, it is important that the leaders of an ED organization, including the ED CEO, be charged with ensuring that the organization's vision is put into practice, and that the decisions that are made on a day-to-day basis are consistent with the vision.

The act of stewardship means being entrusted with the responsibility for something. ED leaders are entrusted with the invaluable economic assets of a community, region or state.


Senge, Peter, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Doubleday, 1990.

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