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Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self Interest [Paperback]

Peter Block
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 1 1993
Presents the concept of "stewardship"-the next step for managers and companies after "empowerment" By the author of the bestselling books The Empowered Manager and Flawless Consulting Peter Block's classic book, The Empowered Manager, began the empowerment movement in thousands of businesses, public agencies, schools, and nonprofit organizations. Here Block takes the next step beyond empowerment in his revolutionary book, Stewardship. Organizations that practice stewardship, Block explains, will succeed in their marketplace by choosing service over self-interest at every point and by a far-reaching redistribution of power, privilege, and wealth. Without this, little real change will result. As a successful managing strategy for corporate, governmental, and nonprofit organizations, "stewardship" is, fundamentally, the spirit of partnership and service. According to Block, the company that has absorbed the principles of stewardship will offer equity and partnership at all levels for its employees, and managers who identify themselves as "stewards" will hold themselves accountable to all those over whom they exercise power. Such managers will choose service over self-interest and will put self-management over control. "No one should be able to make a living simply planning, watching, controlling, or evaluating the actions of others," Block says. Stewardship explains how to integrate the management of work and the doing of work, to redistribute purpose and power within an organization. It speaks about how this can affect work flow, quality control, performance appraisal, pay systems, supervisory methods, job design, and human resources. Managers who are dissatisfied with the superficial changes resulting from currently popular programs, will learn how to achieve lasting, broad-based improvements in their organizations.

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From Publishers Weekly

Block ( The Empowered Manager ), a professional in organizational training, runs riot with assumptions about human nature. Reaching for the stars, he constructs a productive business/industry model under which increasingly empowered employee/workers establish a new category of partnership and accountability that will render traditional management hierarchies almost obsolete. In simple terms (not notably indulged in here), sales and service personnel will so promote the interests of customers, distributors and production workforce that overpaid executives will forgo wealth and power, re-address priorities and bend moral attitudes to this end as stewards of the common good. Though there will still, admits Block, be a place for bosses, their role will radically change when the subordinate becomes "the customer of the boss." 20,000 first printing; $40,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Block, author of The Empowered Manager (Jossey-Bass, 1987), which offers an individualistic approach to "empowerment," here explains this movement on a much broader scale, offering his original and profound new view on running organizations. Block shows executives how to move from controlling and directing to his vision of shared governance, partnership, and total ownership of a business by all team members. This concept represents no less than a complete redistribution of power and a total restructuring, which will probably confound most present-day managers. Block transcends all extant leadership literature with this primary source on the organizational dynamics of the future, which will soon be copied. He has heard an as-yet-unknown muse and conceived the organizational structure of the 21st century. Guaranteed to be controversial; strongly recommended.
- Dale Farris, Groves, Tex.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Communism Has a New Name July 25 2001
Once upon a time the Soviet Union conducted a grand experiment: In the name of equity and empowerment, management would be eliminated, and the power and control would be redistributed to the common man. The working class would enjoy the power to make their own decisions and to control their own destiny under the guidance of just a few unobtrusive leaders. Industry was re-organized into cells and cooperatives, each operating as an independent entity within loose guidelines provided by the state. The workers worked in small teams of comrades and were paid based on the success of their cooperative. The watchword of the day was self-sacrifice for the good of the team, for the good of the whole. This system of governance was called communism, and the capitalists in the west declared it one of the great evils. But here it is again, rearing its head right in our midst, right in the thick of corporate culture - and the corporate bigwigs seem to be eating it up - CEO's and Vice-Presidents from Levi Strauss and Bell Telephone to AT&T sing its praises (cover sheet). So what did it take to get the corporate culture to buy into communism? Simple. A change in name and in scale. Instead of calling it Communism, Peter Block has given the new culture the name Stewardship and he applies it, not to countries, but to corporations. The coating on the pill is different, but the same bad medicine is still the same Lets examine just some of the similarities between Communism and Stewardship:
The communists eliminated all but the uppermost positions of privilege. The Stalins and Gorbachevs retained their wealth and privilege, but the middle positions were eliminated and the responsibility was redistributed to the workers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Choose service over self interest Feb. 4 2008
This is from my blog which is why it reads this way.

I also read "Stewardship" by Peter Block. This is an excellent business book. The thesis of the book is empower people to make decisions. It also speaks about serving as a method of leadership. It talks about team interests as opposed to self interest (the belief being that a strong team is the best for self interest)

Interesting thesis. Choose serving over self interest because this is in your best self interest.

I agree with much of the thesis of the book although it is somewhat counter culture to our current culture at SYNNEX (and perhaps more close to the EMJ culture, the company I started in 1979 and sold to SYNNEX). A large part of my role at SYNNEX is to help mould culture.

Good culture can make a company succeed or fail. We are not quite where we want to be yet but are moving in the right direction. I know there are frustrations with where we are but I think if people really look at where we are relative to where we came from, they will appreciate that we are moving to where we need to go.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Yes! April 22 2004
I sat at the bookstore reading this book and nodding, saying "Yes, this author knows! He gets it, he gets it!"
Peter Block asks the important questions, gives pearls of wisdom highlighted among the content. He clearly understands what he is facing and moves the reader easily into seeing solutions which work and those which are simply adding more of the "old ways" of coercion, patriarchy and adding more "disease" to the organization instead of the RECREATION which will move the organization to its highest level possible.
This quote from Chapter 15 Sums up Block's attitude and approach... and had me want to stand on the table and applaud.
"If we took responsibility for our freedom, committed ourselves to service and had faith that our security lay within ourselves, we could stop asking the question, "HOW?" we would see that we have the answer. In every case the answer to the question, "How" is YES. It plays the location and the solution in the right place - with the question.
When will I finally choose adventure and accept the fact that there is no safe path?
I even smiled at Block's titling of the Bibliography as "Lost and Found."
Chapter 13: Recreating Our Organization Through Leadership is exceptionally strong as is Block's approach to the Cynics which inhabit (and have the ability to very simply destroy and dismantle ) positive growth.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Deming All Over Again - We Never Learn Oct. 19 2002
Although he captured me with his initial quote from Shakespeare's Richard III as rationale for a practical means to insure corporate survival, I found Peter Block to be the most refreshing thinker I've yet had the privilege to study. I used this book in a Doc course where we included a fairly lengthy conference call with Block, thus giving our rather small cohort (12 of us) a good opportunity to quiz him on some of the gritty application details. I must admit that I finished the course with a distinct impression that Block may well be the next Deming. Unfortunately, the mistakes of the past seem to be repeating in that although a new generation of managers understands his philosophy and may be buying into it at a fairly respectable pace, the bulk of corporate thinkers are just not willing to jeopardize the thinking that got them into place. The problem is typical....one of my earliest lessons in administrative thinking was a CEO who told us to use that new CQI process because he was going to foster change in our org.....right up to where he told us to find a way to make sure the results of the process met his goals for the org.
There is no doubt that Block is challenging the big thinkers to have the guts to give up the power while still holding the responsibility. Like Deming before him, he's a prophet with a message everybody believes in but few are willing to sacrifice adequately to reap the enlightenment. I'm not a CEO, but I've used his principles fairly successfully the past 4 years, occasionally I can't make it work, but when it does, the results have been spectacular. What's important for me is that I think of myself as a steward entrusted with a valuable resource.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars weLEAD Book Review by the Editor of leadingtoday.org
Business consultant Peter Block is no stranger to controversy. A number of his previous works explored the reaches of transformational management, including his bestselling book... Read more
Published on Feb. 12 2002 by Greg L. Thomas
This is simply a phenomenal book! You will re-read this book every year.
Published on May 2 2000
This is simply a phenomenal book! You will re-read this book every year.
Published on May 2 2000 by J. Andrews
4.0 out of 5 stars The harsh reality that confronts much contemporary optimism.
The harsh reality that confronts much contemporary optimism. A book about helplessness, tyranny and profit. But also about leadership, democracy, the human spirit and prosperity. Read more
Published on Sept. 10 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars The "bottom line" is: Regard for others
Block has a way of taking us outside the realm of day-to-day management without falling into unreality. Read more
Published on Oct. 22 1998 by perryp@gte.net Perry Pascarella
4.0 out of 5 stars Not your standard Management Reading
Peter Block takes the basic principles of leadership and inverts them into a whole new way of looking at just who the customer is, what customer service is, and exactly who it is... Read more
Published on Aug. 3 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars "Gang-Friendly Environment" - "Redefining Gang"
"Stewardship" is the title of the book that seemed to jump right off the shelf at me. As I skimmed through it, I was surprised at what I read. Read more
Published on June 11 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars This book captures the essence of my new consulting business
Peter Block read my mind, articulated my dream, and has captured the essence of my new consulting business, Revolution Consulting. Read more
Published on April 29 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars This book takes Servant Leaderhip to a new level
Reading Stewardship changed the way I approach all my efforts both in my own leaderhsip and supervisory capacities and in my advising and educating of students. Read more
Published on April 15 1997
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