When organizations are filled with leaders and team members who think and act like owners, work is more meaningful, rewarding, and enjoyable.
But that benefit is just the tip of the iceberg. Ownership is also a central component of an organization’s ability to execute on strategy: To be successful over the long term and outpace the competition, it takes an entire workforce who feels responsible, acts with empowerment, and is fully invested in the mission of the business.
Just imagine the results your organization could capture if you were able to establish a stronger culture of ownership. Creating that culture begins with individuals who are willing to look in the mirror, honestly examine their personal contribution to the current culture, and assess whether those contributions are adding to from a true ownership culture—or detracting from it.
We’ll talk about three primary characteristics of employees who think and act like owners in the sections that follow.
See how you measure up, and then think about how you might be able to fine-tune the contribution you make.
1. Broader View
Leaders and team members who have a strong sense of ownership don’t focus solely on getting the job done—they also take an interest in really understanding how the business functions.
By knowing how the business works and how their team, other teams, and the larger organization achieves success, they gain a broader, more-holistic mindset, which helps them be active participants in helping the organization achieve its long-term goals.
Unfortunately, many people (from people on the front lines all the way up) don’t take the time to step back and gain awareness of how the organization operates or its current and future plans. If this is an area you think you can improve on, strive to be more perceptive about where your organization is heading and what its priorities are.
When you understand how the organization operates, you are in a better position to break down silos and work across boundaries, ensuring greater synergy and alignment. Get actively engaged. Pay attention to the messages you’re receiving from upper management or other key leaders.
This will give you a better understanding of how you fit, why you matter, and how your unique contribution can impact the business or your team in a distinctive way.
2. Entrepreneurial Spirit
Thinking and acting like an owner requires you to have an entrepreneurial spirit, which is brought to life when your heart and mind are fully engaged by the work you do.
Leaders and team members who exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit are usually easy to identify; they are relentlessly committed to using their strengths to go above and beyond basic expectations. They recognize that when you work hard, good things happen more often, so they always strive to do their best work. If you find that you have an opportunity for improvement in this area, you can begin unleashing your entrepreneurial spirit by changing your frame of mind first.
You have to adopt the mindset that you aren’t just an employee filling a role and making a simple transaction: work for pay. Instead, think of your role as that of a steward. Your organization is trusting you to care for and oversee an important piece of the business.
If you aren’t doing your best work in your area of responsibility, you put yourself and your organization at risk of becoming obsolete. Also, discover what your strengths and unique capabilities are and decide how you can best contribute them to the organization and your responsibilities. As you leverage these distinctive qualifications, you can really make a difference.
Have you ever experienced how frustrating and unproductive it can be when people don’t take responsibility for their own actions or responsibilities, or for the success of the business?
Do you ever find yourself being unable to fulfill all your commitments and expectations?
Lack of accountability is very costly for organizations. It also takes a serious toll on people’s credibility and ultimately, on the team’s effectiveness. Leaders and team members who think and act like owners are fully accountable for commitments, responsibilities, and relationships.
They are responsible for achieving results, regardless of the obstacles or challenges that may get in their way. You will certainly make some missteps or “drop the ball” from time to time. That is the reality of everyday life. But accountable people own up when they make mistakes and rapidly make the situation right.
If you find yourself struggling to be accountable for results or expectations, try to think like an owner through your commitments and agreements seriously. When committing to something, strive to be clear about what is within your power or capability. If you find yourself violating an agreement or commitment, make an effort to repair the situation and the damaged relationship as soon as possible. By being forthcoming and accepting the consequences, you demonstrate accountability—and people will notice, and respect you for it.
We believe that creating a stronger ownership culture is one of the most important challenges organizations and leaders face as they execute on short-term demands and set the stage for the long run by establishing strategic targets and creating action plans. Incorporating a sense of ownership into the culture of an organization isn’t something that will happen overnight, but it does begin with one person striving to make a difference in a profound way.
To learn more about ownership and other characteristics of a strategic leader, pre-order your copy of CMOE’s newest book, The Art of Strategic Leadership here.