Traditional theories of the organization and management focus on the self interests of the people involved, and how their different desires can be used to motivate them. Theories on organizational stewardship take a different approach, assuming that people are motivated by more than just their own well being. Organizational stewardship means seeing your own role as being a caretaker, focusing on the duties that you owe other people and the organization as a whole. Within an organization stewardship encourages a more cooperative environment focused on group success.


Small businesses sometimes face a paradox: They require more effort from fewer employees but are not able to pay them as much as their larger competitors. In order to reward higher effort and results they must rely on other forms of compensation. Organizational stewardship is a way to improve the culture of an organization and to promote an environment of trust that will attract top talent independent of pay.


The decisions that small business managers make often carry more weight than those in a larger organization since a small business may have more to lose from any setback. In order to better cope with this situation it is beneficial for managers to have a stewardship approach, where they identify their own success with that of the organization and take on personal responsibility.


In addition to the duties that a manager has to the small business organization he works for, both he and the organization have a duty to the society at large. One way an organization can encourage stewardship in its management is by focusing on the needs of greater society. For example, a small business can take greater care in how it manages its materials in order to have a more beneficial impact on the environment.


Many successful small businesses start out as family-run operations. Family members are more inclined to focus on the duties that they owe one another and see themselves as being a part of a greater whole and thereby encourage stewardship. Small businesses that encourage this type of family environment benefit from the selflessness of their managers and their high level of motivation.