The Real Secrets to Creating Ownership
No one cares like an owner. But, the more you own the less they own.
No one wants to own what you own too.
Individuals take ownership, you can’t give it. When someone gives you something you don’t want, you protest. “No thanks.” If it’s forced on you, you take possession but not ownership.
Possession is assigned; ownership is taken.
- Owners desire what they own. I worked and saved for the first bike I bought as a kid. I wanted that bike. Ownership is about desire not assignment.
- Control expresses ownership; those who own, control. If you control everything, they own nothing, regardless of roles or assignments.
- Owners sit at the table. If direct reports never attend meetings, you still own what they only possess.
- Owners speak for themselves. Bosses who report for you are the real owners. Bosses who won’t let you speak usually take credit in the end because they owned it all the time.
- Reward reflects ownership. The people receiving recognition and reward are real owners. Who gets the pat on the back?
Ownership is about them, first. Individual desire motivates ownership. You own what you want.
- What personal or career goals pull them forward?
- What aptitudes and passions drive them?
- Where do they best align organizational mission and vision? Alignment is found never forced.
- What organizational future most fuels their fire?
- What makes them proud?
- Why are they still with the organization?
Focus more on people and less on projects to inspire ownership. Are you spending most of your time explaining projects and little time understanding people? You’re still the owner.
What blocks ownership?
How are you creating ownership?
Micromanagement blocks ownership. The best way to tell or show someone that they do not own, and that their opinion and skills do not matter, and they may not even really matter is to micromanage them in an area where they have some expertise, and/ or the strong desire to learn something new
You create ownership by giving people increasing responsibilities as you allow them time to learn and make mistakes. You support their innovation. You celebrate their progress, no matter how small.
You lift them into the spotlight. And you do all of this with backdrop of increasing self-accountability.
Thank you Martina.
Insightful suggestions. Management is an act of trust. Micromanagement expresses doubt. Thanks for the inspiration.
I like the tone of “increasing” responsibility. It suggests progress. I can get in too much of a hurry and not allow time for people to grow into ownership… Ownership is about confidence.
Love that! “Focus less on projects and more on people”. It takes a secure shepherd to release his company or even his project for someone else’s ownership. But when the team wins, we ALL own the success.
Thank you Justin.
Thanks for adding the idea of security/confidence to this conversation. Insecure leaders can’t let others take ownership. Powerful.
I believe most ESOPs fail due to “owners” not being allowed to the table. When the “owners” in an ESOP have passion and knowledge about the business (by their many years of employment), they should be allowed at the table. While in HR you notice how many years of service the employee has, it’s still nice to recognize that knowledge and technical expertise too, and allow the employee to voice an opinion on how to do things better/more efficiently. In many cases, upper management in failed ESOPs tend to ignore this very vital resource.
I also think that in many cases that projects get in the way of recognizing the “owners” in an ESOP.
Thank you Ava.
YOu make me think that ESOP’s and all organizations for that matter should be training everyone on how to sit at the table and have a voice. What a useful training topic.
Focus more on people, less on project is key concept here. You are right, as many organizations that focus on project, marginally succeed and generally crumble.There are high possibilities that these organizations succeed faster than others in short run. However, organizations that focus on people, actually succeed significantly in long run. They become better than the best companies. And this is difference between ownership and non-ownership. People focused organizations provide ownership to employees whereas project focused organizations retain ownership if few hands. And this philosophy hinders growth. This kind of mindset blocks ownership.
We need to infuse encouragement across hierarchy not for the monetary gain but for recognition and respect. This will tremendously help in creating ownership. I also believe that creating ownership is the intentional and attitudinal elements. And it takes courage to create ownership.
Thank you Ajay.
The addition of short term vs. long term success in this conversation makes a huge difference.
The temptation of quick success often overwhelms leaders. It works for awhile.
It takes vision and courage to win less today so you can win more tomorrow.
Fear creates selfishness.
Folks fear if they let anyone else do things they loose control or the task will net get done right.
Helping a person lessen their selfishness is a much more complex than it sounds. They have to come to a decision deep in their gut what they are doing is a complete failure.
When they hit bottom with their strategy then they are willing to change. Timing, all depends on their tolerance for pain. When it hurts enough they change.
Ideas for facilitating change….get your own house in order.
Thank you Scott.
Another useful contribution.
You make me think of how fearful leaders use fear.
Fear is useful if you’re house is on fire but when it comes to helping others take ownership, it’s a bust.
Sadly, leaders know how to fear people into taking possession of projects.
Very well said Dan.
Human beings all operate the same way and people use fear when they do not know any other way. Leaders are included of course.
Encouraging, challenging, setting up situations where people can find out they can do more and different things than they ever dreamed possible rocks!
Just because a person finds themselves with a title of leader or in a position they say and people have to do does not make them a leader. It makes them a weenie with a title and a little influence. No biggie over time they will get back what they give… It’s the law of attraction.
Have a great day Dan.
when they cant lead, they manage. Self-esteem is the scarce resource that they try to take, driving mundane details because it is easy, rather than people, which is difficult.
Thank you devsmt.
details and projects are definitely easier than people. Thanks
Excellent post. Just last week I struggled with this same issue. My boss would let my staff talk to or meet the client for the project he was working on. As a result the staff member felt no ownership in the project. It wasn’t his project, it was my project that he was working on. While he appreciated the opportunity to do the work, it wasn’t a priority because it wasn’t his work. My boss and I had a long discussion about too many cooks if the staff can’t take a full role in the project.
Thank you Bonnie.
Thanks also for all the twitter support. Much appreciated.
Wonderful illustration that drives the point home.
“No one wants to own what you own too.”
What blocks ownership is micromanaging and it’s evil twin on the opposite end of the spectrum, complete abandonment by management.
Not that I have ever done either of those…uh huh.
Thank you Matt,
I appreciate the tension between micromanagement and too much hands off. I find it a tough balance because I always preferred being left alone.
It’s worth the time to explore just how much contact each individual needs.
These thoughts also work toward building your brand.
It’s always fun to apply ideas in new areas… thank you
What a great commentary on ownership. Thanks for posting it.
Thanks Big Dave.
My wife had an experience with this recently. After cajoling our daughter to leave her stuffed animal at home our daughter decided to take her toy to the supermarket. She dropped the toy and did not realize her loss until we were home. My wife consoled her on her loss and even let her call the store to see if they found the toy (which was fruitless). The best thing she did however, was to show sympathy and show confidence that she could go about fixing the problem.
In my opinion that is one technique to teach ownership.
Thank you Greg.
I struggled with who bears the consequences on failure with this post. I’m all for giving credit.
In some way those who fail need to bear responsibility but in the end, leaders and managers are ultimately responsible. It feels a bit out of balance but I couldn’t come up with any other approach.
I suppose an employee who totally screws up may bear responsibility by being fired, reprimanded, or loss of future opportunities. The last idea seems most acceptable.
Never the less, your illustration is important. Ownership includes feeling the consequences of both good and bad choices.
I’ll add, that standing with and supporting folks who screw up goes a long way.
Blame is a very delicate animal. My illustration was to help show how you can teach ownership.
I agree that the most effective leaders take the responsibility of more than their own failings but also the failings of their teams. Lets look at failure for a minute with this story and compare results: the value of a small toy to a parent is no more than its cost and the joy it affords in giving it to a child. To a child this toy can be worth far greater when in reality the child will see that the value of the toy was really the value it added to the relationship it stemmed from, the relationship with mom or dad.
A lesson for my daughter on ownership when she makes a mistake is worth the lost toy any day. The proverbial lost toy can be very difficult to determine as a leader. Each will have their own standard that they are unwilling to budge. In my opinion a leader that allows their team to make mistakes with things that can appear to be important but in reality can be corrected in the grand scheme of things AND are worth seeing what the team will do. I propose that this is a wise leader that can do this so that he can see what his team is really made of. He will then be able to encourage good behavior and retrain less effective actions.
Thanks for the great discussion!
You know, Dan, I always take what you write and try to apply to my profession, which is teaching. Student motivation and engagement is a huge issue in schools, especially secondary levels. We have concepts and ideas to teach the children, but they often don’t seem interested in learning those concepts. Taking your post today – maybe the ownership still resides in the teachers, not in the students; so, they don’t care to show learning. It’s a thought I intend to mull over some more tonight. What would be good next steps to reach ownership levels in schoolwork. Hmm. Thanks for your insightful post! Diane M
I am a teacher too and I agree. I believe in the old saying you have to teach something to truly know it well. I encourage students to suggest activities, and if they want to be the teacher for the duration of the class.
A lot of people fear the work won’t get done if it is approached in this way.
Once students have ownership, they give direction it becomes the teachers job to underscore curriculum context.
I am enjoying this conversation,
Hey if you don’t sit at the table, you are not on the agenda. So you can own what you want, but if you do not defend you will lose what you have. Its called being accountable to your stakeholders and yourself. Btw, I welcome your readers to visit my blog at https://bradfordcares.wordpress.com/.