Steward Leadership vs Servant Leadership: What’s the Difference?

Steward Leadership vs Servant Leadership What’s the Difference banner image

Leaders come in all different shapes and sizes, with a variety of strengths and weaknesses. Two of the most common leadership styles are steward leadership and servant leadership. While both have their advantages, there are some marked differences between the two. In this article, we’ll take a look at those differences, as well as the pros and cons of each style. So let’s get started!

What is steward leadership and what is servant leadership?

Steward leadership is a term that is occasionally used interchangeably with servant leadership. Both are leadership styles that emphasize serving others and putting their needs first.

Steward leaders are typically more focused on the long-term vision for their organization, while servant leaders may be more concerned with the day-to-day operations. Both styles of leadership emphasize collaboration and teamwork.

Key differences between steward leadership and servant leadership

There are several key differences between steward leadership and servant leadership:

  1. The main difference between steward leadership and servant leadership is that steward leaders are often more formal in their approach, while servant leaders may be more informal. Steward leaders may also be more likely to delegate authority to others, while servant leaders may prefer to maintain tight control over their team..
  2. Steward leaders tend to focus on results, while servant leaders focus on people. Steward leaders are also more likely to see their role as one of providing direction and support, while servant leaders are more likely to see their role as one of facilitation and empowerment.
  3. Steward leaders tend to be more task-oriented, while servant leaders are more relationship-oriented.
Prominent team leader
Prominent team leader

Pros of steward leadership over servant leadership

  1. Steward leadership is often seen as a more effective and efficient form of servant leadership. This is because steward leaders are typically more proactive in their approach to serving others, and they are also more focused on achieving results.
  2. Steward leaders typically have a better understanding of organizational dynamics and are better able to navigate them. As a result, they are often able to create more meaningful change within organizations than servant leaders.
  3. Steward leaders are often more successful in sustaining long-term change within organizations than servant leaders. This is because they are better equipped to handle resistance and build support for their initiatives over time.

Cons of steward leadership compared to servant leadership

There are several potential disadvantages to using a steward leadership style compared to servant leadership. These can include:

  1. Steward leaders may be more concerned with meeting deadlines and goals than with the well being of their team. This can lead to a more stressful and demanding work environment.
  2. Because they are more task-oriented, steward leaders may be less responsive to the needs of individual team members. This can lead to frustration and resentment among team members.
  3. Steward leaders may be less likely to delegate authority, which can limit the ability of team members to develop their own leadership skills.
  4. The focus on achieving goals can sometimes result in steward leaders being less flexible and adaptable to change. This can make it difficult to respond quickly to new challenges or opportunities.

Pros of servant leadership over steward leadership

There are many benefits that servant leadership offers over steward leadership:

  1. Servant leaders are more likely to create an environment of trust and respect. This is because they focus on the needs of their followers and work to meet those needs.
  2. Servant leaders also tend to be more effective communicators, which can help to improve follower morale and keep them informed about company developments.
  3. Servant leaders are more likely to encourage creativity and innovation within their team or organization. This is because they believe that all employees have something valuable to contribute and they work to tap into that potential.

While there are some advantages that steward leadership offers, such as a focus on results, it is clear that servant leadership is a more effective approach overall. This is because it leads to greater trust, communication, and creativity, all of which are essential for any organization to be successful.

Leadership Thinking
Leadership Thinking

Cons of servant leadership compared to steward leadership

There are a few potential drawbacks to servant leadership compared to steward leadership:

  1. Servant leaders may have difficulty delegating tasks and authority to others, because they feel a personal responsibility to do everything themselves.
  2. Servant leaders may become too focused on serving their followers, and neglect their own needs in the process.
  3. Servant leaders may find it difficult to achieve work/life balance, as they are constantly working to meet the needs of others.

Situations when steward leadership is better than servant leadership

There are certain situations when steward leadership may be a better option than servant leadership:

  1. When an organization is facing ethical issues or a crisis, for example, it may be necessary for leaders to take a more assertive role in guiding their followers.
  2. If an organization is undergoing rapid change or growth, steward leaders may be better equipped to handle the challenges that come with this type of transition.
  3. When faced with an ethical dilemma, steward leaders are more likely to take decisive action than those who practice servant leadership. This is because they recognize the importance of upholding the values and standards of the organization. Furthermore, steward leaders are typically more concerned with the long-term well-being of the organization, rather than their own personal gain.
  4. In times of crisis, steward leaders are better equipped to handle the situation than those who practice servant leadership. This is because they are more likely to take decisive action and make tough decisions that may be unpopular with their followers. Steward leaders typically have a broader perspective than servant leaders and are able to see the big picture.
  5. During periods of rapid change or growth, steward leaders may be better equipped to handle the challenges that come with this type of transition. This is because they are more likely to be flexible and adaptable to change. Steward leaders typically have a long-term view and are able to think strategically about the future of the organization.

Situations when servant leadership is better than steward leadership

There are many different situations in which servant leadership is better than steward leadership:

  1. One situation is when the leader needs to be more focused on the task at hand. This can be seen when a leader is trying to accomplish something and there are others who are not helping or even getting in the way. The leader may need to take charge and be more directive in order to get things done.
  2. Situation is when the followers are not motivated or skilled enough to do what is asked of them. In this case, the leader may need to provide more support and guidance in order for them to be successful.
  3. There may be times when it is simply more effective for the leader to take a hands-off approach and let the followers take care of things. This can be seen when the leader is dealing with a situation that is very sensitive or when there is a lot of conflict among the followers. In these cases, it may be best for the leader to step back and let the followers figure things out for themselves.
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Steward Leadership vs. Servant Leadership Summary

We have discussed servant leadership vs steward leadership. We looked at the main differences between them as well as some pros and cons for each type of leader. Servant leaders are more focused on others while stewards focus more on the task or goal. In general, servant leadership is better when you need to build relationships or have a team that needs support and guidance. Steward leadership is better when you need someone to get things done quickly and efficiently without worrying about building relationships.

Ultimately, the best leader is one who can adapt their style to the situation they are in. If you have questions about which type of leader would be best for your organization or team, leave us a comment below and we will be happy to help!

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