“Every single employee is someone’s son or someone’s daughter. Like a parent, a leader of a company is responsible for their precious lives.” – Simon Sinek
This past week our new friend Shawn Murphy was in town visiting with us at Luck Companies. The purpose was to do some research and interviews for his upcoming book on workplace optimism. We quickly realized that many of the beliefs and philosophies that are foundational to his thinking on the Human Side of Business are, for the most part, identical to ours on Values Based Leadership. We found ourselves riffing on words like love, relationships, connection, compassion, choices, meaning, and purpose. And, what may have been most compelling was our alignment around the word steward and the belief that leadership will be synonymous with stewardship in the future of work.
In the beginning, stewards were household servants whose duties were to bring food and drink to the castle dining hall. Over the course of time they expanded to managing the needs of the entire household. Today, stewardship is generally recognized as the acceptance or assignment of responsibility to take care of something that belongs to someone else. And in the context of leadership, I can’t imagine a better definition.
In Leaders Eat Last, Sinek says, “being a leader is like being a parent and the company is like a new family to join. One that will care for us like we are their own.” He goes on to talk about a study conducted by two researchers at the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work. The study found that the mood parents are in after work has a stronger impact on their child’s well-being than working long hours. In other words, the influence our jobs have on our families is very real and we know that how employees feel at work is mostly attributed to one person: the boss.
The integration of work and life will become commonplace in the future of work and I believe leaders will be asked to give much more consideration to our employees lives outside of the office, factories, and stores as business moves to the human side. The old saying about business not being personal will become a thing of the past and Sinek’s ‘workplace families’ will become very real. Companies will not only be celebrated for making meaning and making money, but for improving the overall health and well-being of their employees. As a result, companies will see reduced health care costs for families, lower divorce rates, and the children of their workforce excelling in school; taking the idea of leaders as stewards to a whole new level.
It is not hard for me to imagine a day when leadership becomes synonymous with stewardship. A day when we as leaders embrace the belief that we truly are responsible for something that belongs to someone else; and that something else moves beyond the mission and margin of the company, to the precious lives of our employees that have been placed in our care.