The modern World is full of challenges to development as utilization of resources has to be compensated by conservation of the environment. Modern man is caught up with the need to progress through consumption. This is turn has also led to exploitation of the environment in many forms.
Leaders today are defined by the success in attaining profits and growth for their organizations. However true leadership is not just leading, it involves stewardship to ensure that the trust bestowed on them by the community is properly served. (Brinckerhoff: 2004). The concept of stewardship is particularly important in conservation and protection of the environment for ecology is a common heritage with equal responsibility of every individual in enhancing the capital provided by nature. In dealing with environmental issues a purely profit oriented approach results in exploitation of nature rather than supplementing and enriching it while utilizing its rewards. This is beneficial in the long term as nature is a sustainable resource which grows through nurturing.
(Environmental Stewardship: 2006). Stewardship is an ideal concept for sustaining the environment as it fosters a systemic approach, conveys ownership, entails commitment by individuals and spreads participation.Kinds of stewardshipStewardship in general is the responsibility of taking care of the resources that have been placed under your custody. Broadly speaking, stewardship is the preservation and enhancement of assets and possessions that have been entrusted to an organization’s management. Thus it involves both conservation and expansion of the given resource. Stewardship in industry implies product stewardship, in the context of organizations it is the ability of the management to utilize and develop the potential of its members. In a religious Christian context, stewardship implies the responsibility that every Christian has to maintain and utilize widely the gifts conferred by God on us including the environment. In the case of environmental stewardship it is to protect the environment through recycling, conservation, regeneration and restoration.
(Environmental Stewardship: 2006). Thus it would be seen that the first essence of all kinds of stewardship is a system wide view.The US Army Corps of Engineers is said to be the steward of over 12 million acres of public land. The stewardship programme ensures that this land provides ideal outdoor recreation experiences to the public while at the same time conserves the natural resources. The stewardship concept has been a key to successful implementation of the program. (Army: 2006). Stewardship in the environmental context leads to sustainability or assuming the responsibility for natural, human and financial resources so that these do not compromise the system in which the organization operates. This is also total sustainability which implies building the environment, social as well as economic systems concurrently.
(Environmental Stewardship: 2006). Thus it would be seen that stewardship transcends leadership, in that it ventures not only to lead the organization but to nurture the entire system which sustains and supports it.Character demonstrating stewardshipStewardship builds ownership. Thus persons who are engaged with society and surroundings have a powerful character which demonstrates stewardship. It also implies accountability to the people whom you serve. Service is aimed at customers as well as subordinates. This is a powerful character dimension which enables evaluation, feedback, defining roles and services offered, to enable a dialogue between the servers and the served.
Stewardship goes beyond self interest. (Block: 1996). The commitment is linked to a stewardship contract with defines the limits of the partnership at every level. Stewardship also denotes individual responsibility to manage life and property with regard to rights of other people. It implies dominion and not exploitation.
Stewards do not control instead they define the limits of control in the given environment. When applied to the context of environment, stewardship addresses the very core of our survival and provides an alternative to government intervention in this highly sensitive field. (Wagner: nd). Stewardship also implies holding a world view, a holistic approach, and a gestalt of human experience. It entails a sound moral grounding to find roots in the world through the force of ethical reason. It provides an innate understanding of the World through a moral perspective. (Doud.
Menz. nd).Character Not Demonstrating StewardshipLeading without involvement for the overall good of the system does not demonstrate stewardship. Thus when a person is merely concerned about achieving results within a narrow, time bound frame work without an overall perspective of organizational good, he may display leadership but he certainly does not demonstrate stewardship. (Brinckerhoff: 2004). Leaders who are not guided by this concept of stewardship are not cream of the crop.
A person who is not involving the people around him, however brilliant is his conception; in an enterprise is not a steward. An individual who is not guiding, supporting and nurturing his colleagues simultaneously as he goes about managing the business is not a steward, he is may only remain a good manager.Challenges Faced in Being a Good StewardThe challenges in making good stewards are manifold. Leaders can be made or nominated, however stewardship is either inborn or cultivated. There is also a conflict between attaining short term results and stewardship.
Since stewardship is a holistic concept and it is designed to take a systemic view there is a premium on building stewardship qualities, which will require time, energy and effort. Stewardship also deems long term thinking while results are easily demonstrated in the short term, thus there are always pressures for people to show quick results which may be against stewardship. This is particularly relevant in the environmental context as ecology is a continuous, ongoing process and not a one off event.Nurturing Environmental StewardshipEnvironmental stewardship can be achieved in different ways. The transformation of the concept of conservation of the environment through stewardship is attainable through real estate professionals as they are constantly interacting with a large number of land owners and buyers. Thus in case an education program of real estate managers is undertaken to foster the environment through the stewardship concept, it can have wide spread impact.
Such an environmental stewardship program can also be extended to volunteers in the field of watershed stewards, livestock advisors, forest advisors and beach watchers to include areas such as conservation of the landscape and assessment of the impact of conservation efforts.ConclusionStewardship is an ideal concept for sustaining the environment as it fosters a systemic approach, conveys ownership, involves individuals in commitment to society and spreads participation. Conservation of the environment requires total involvement of the society. It is a systemic effort for preservation undertaken across a wide spectrum of activities which include both preservation, conservation, reduction of waste and recycling. Stewardship alone can provide such a holistic perspective by developing ownership in people to seek their whole hearted commitment and denote responsibility and accountability leading to holistic ecological sustenance.