Adjusting Stewardship to Context

A challenging thought surrounding the stewardship practice deals with the cultural differences we see across various organizations. Some cultures, for example, are not comfortable with lowering power distance while others must rely on control and technicalities as a way of operating. There are even some organizations that place stewardship values at their core, but have ignored it in practice due to a “fear of sinking.” Which leaves many leaders stumped and asking the question, “How do I nurture the idea of stewardship in specific cultures and industries without dishonoring the local way of being?”

The culture or organization we are part of truly affects the way we apply stewardship practices. For this reason, stewardship practices have to be adapted to the local culture and industry. All leadership ideas require this.

Peter says, “Cultures vary in their local styles and patterns, but citizens of every culture long for more voice, more meaning in the work and care about relationships.”

The idea of reducing social distance requires giving up control and really listening. This shift will be natural for some cultures such as England where citizens are provided a sense of shelter and togetherness from the start. In these types of environments, citizens are able to give up control and adopt stewardship practices without “taking too much risk”.

“In my experience, the North American culture,” Peter says, “is one of the most uncomfortable with reducing social distance.”

This can be challenging for a consultant, fearing they may cross cultural boundaries and provoke resistance from management. That said, “There are pockets in every organization that are open to a new way of being together. What is key is not thinking you need top management’s support to make a difference,” says Peter.

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