You Want People to Take Ownership – But How

“Anything that affects my team is mine.” Brandon Ross*

“If the traffic light in front of my building isn’t working, I’m having someone look into it.”

You want people on your team who take ownership like Brandon, but how?

Image of a bright path through the woods.

Delegating tasks creates workers. Delegating authority invites ownership.

5 Key factors in giving ownership:

#1. Begin with curiosity.

Barking orders creates compliance. Asking questions invites participation.

Owners participate.

#2. Notice passive patterns.

Ownership is active.

Negative situations that persist point to passive patterns. How many times have you had the same conversation? Maybe it’s time to change your approach.

Listen for passive language.

Ask people what they want and listen carefully. People often describe what they don’t want when you ask them what they want.

When people focus on things they don’t want, passive patterns prevail.

Owners know what they want.

#3. Delegate responsibility.

Delegating tasks creates workers. Offering authority invites ownership.

“Mop this floor,” is delegating a task. You begin to shift toward ownership when you ask, “Are you the person to keep this floor shiny?”

#4. Ownership requires competence.

Competent people feel confident to own things, but incompetence shuns responsibility. Expecting ownership from incompetent people is catastrophic.

Incompetence misjudges responsibility. When incompetent people take on jobs, they underestimate what it takes to get things done. Failure and frustration are inevitable.

#5. Ownership elevates the necessity of help.

Ownership isn’t doing everything yourself.

Don’t wait for help to arrive. Go get it.

An owner seeks help before deadlines are missed. If you own it, you can’t let it fail. If you’re in over your head – and often you are – seek help.

“All we have to do to create the future is to change the nature of our conversations, to go from blame to ownership, and from bargaining to commitment, and from problem solving to possibility.” Peter Block

What factors for giving ownership seem most important to you?

What factors for giving ownership might you add to the above list?

*This post includes ideas from a recent coaching conversation with Brandon Ross.