Stewardship is a time-tested volume of insight and wisdom that challenges the reader to examine the prevailing methods of leadership present in most businesses and organizations. The 2nd edition of Stewardship maintains the author’s original premise of rethinking the role of corporate authoritarian leadership and replacing it with a model service to those that are being led. The value of this book is in the challenge that it poses to the reader to scrutinize and appraise their beliefs regarding the role of leaders and effective leadership in organizations of all shapes and sizes.
The opportunity to be challenged in one’s thinking, rather than being instructed, is the primary reason to read Stewardship by Peter Block. He boldly proposes a new structure for leadership within the business world and long-standing institutions, which is highlighted by a shared model of leadership which he maintains will allow the creativity and productiveness of each employee to be better realized.
The suggestion by the author that the leadership of organizations, if they are genuinely interested in “unleashing” the potential of the organization they serve, should locate the power of decision making at the lowest possible level, and “steward” the activities and functions of the organization rather than mandate them with an authoritarian approach. Since Block’s challenge to the established corporate culture first emerged over 25 years ago, a revised edition of the book further clarifies the reasons he calls for such reforms.
The concept of turning “employees into partners” who are directly involved in the future and decision making of the organization is illustrated by Block’s call for the removal of “layers of management”. He contends that by placing the decisions most closely to where the work occurs and having those decisions championed by leadership, a new level of productivity and collaborative work environment can be created. He advocates for managers to relinquish many of the “perks and privileges” that they currently enjoy for the opportunity to reward employees based authentically upon the experience and outcomes that customers receive.
The value of this book, from a leadership perspective, is its focus on team member engagement and potential improvement in productivity. The questions that the author attempts to resolve, center around the structures that perpetuate division and mistrust. The need for leaders to be well versed in emotional intelligence, as well as being deeply invested in the growth and development of team members is clearly expressed. The value of a “high trust culture”, and the positive impacts it can have on the overall effectiveness of an organization is something that wise leaders will find both informative and helpful.