Stewardship of People

Masterworks just surpassed an incredible benchmark.  We recently added our 100th staff person.  Talk about growth.  When I joined the leadership here 18 years ago our staff numbered 10! 

I believe management is a sacred calling. There is no greater stewardship responsibility than that of stewarding people.  If I can help marshal the time and talents of these people to maximize their contribution to God’s Kingdom, it will have a greater impact than all the money I could ever give away. 

My management philosophy was shaped very early by my first mentor. Ed Gruman of World Vision lamented that a talented person was fired due to his weaknesses. Ed quoted Proverbs 14:4, “Where there are no oxen, the stable is clean, but much increase is by the strength of an ox.” He said, “If you don’t want to deal with any crap, have only weak people, but you won’t get much done.”

None of us is strong in every area that our job demands.  Rather than search for that “perfect” player who in reality just doesn’t exist, and suffer high volumes of staff turnover from frustrated and disgruntled staff members, I’ve cultivated three principles here at Masterworks that benefit both our company and staff: 

  1.  Focus on strengths.  Empower people to do what they do best.  Play to their strengths.  Free staff members up from tasks that don’t energize them.  Cover for their weaknesses with other staff and systems that make those weaknesses irrelevant.  Create a culture like a football team, where everyone feels responsible for fumble recovery.  It’s not OK to yell, “He fumbled. I didn’t do it.” 
  2. Cultivate transparent debate.  Good people, especially leaders and creative types, are going to project a unique, opinionated and often forceful presence.  When you assemble a group of those people together you’re bound to experience conflict.  That’s why I’ve always devoted significant time and energy to knowing and acknowledging differences of opinion.  Focus on debate as a productive process to clarify issues and arrive at the best solutions.  Create a culture of collaboration that brings all the right resources to the table.  Deal with people personally.  Keep short accounts.  And make it all about team, not individual egos. We have no one on our senior team with high ego needs.
  3. Strive for longevity.  Aside from a couple of recent hires, the players on our Executive Team have been working together for between 10 and 30 years.  That kind of stability not only builds understanding and trust within the team, it also demonstrates a culture of loyalty to all those who join our staff.  We understand each other’s motives and resonate with our combined mission.

1 Corinthians 1:27 reveals the amazing truth that “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”  Even the strongest people are weak in God’s sight.  And He uses them to demonstrate His power and glory. May that be true for all 100 of us.

Steve Woodworth