Leading by Example: Nurturing an Ownership Mentality across Teams
Leading by Example: Nurturing an Ownership Mentality across Teams

Leading by Example: Nurturing an Ownership Mentality across Teams

Employee Learning & Development, Company Culture   — 3 MIN


Leaders and managers spend a lot of time ensuring that each task is assigned to a team member. We give team members responsibility for their tasks and work on ways to hold them accountable. But if they don’t have authority, they may not feel ownership. They’re completing tasks without making decisions. Essentially, they’re doing someone else’s work rather than their own. When your team doesn’t have an ownership mindset, it can lead to:

  • a fragmented experience for customers, because no one is looking at the whole project;
  • disempowered employees, who might see a problem but don’t feel they have the authority to make changes or solve it; and
  • a dysfunctional workplace, where even employees trying to do their best work can’t achieve the results their team needs.

The process of ownership

With an ownership mindset, your team transcends mere task completion to embrace true ownership of their responsibilities. They pivot their focus from immediate outputs to overarching outcomes, understanding that while outputs represent the tangible results of their efforts, outcomes signify the fulfillment of broader business objectives. Whereas outputs are the individual steps taken along the journey, outcomes encompass the long-term goals that drive your organization's success and resilience in a constantly evolving landscape.

Managers delegate tasks to their teams all the time. However, fostering an ownership mindset within organizations requires shifting towards assigning actions and recognizing and assigning impact. When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with a team member regarding the impact of their contributions? When did you last encourage an employee to decide the outcomes of their efforts? Creating opportunities for these discussions and empowering team members to shape the impact of their work can play a crucial role in building an environment of ownership and accountability, ultimately fostering deeper innovation.

As leaders, there are ways you can support your team's growth and success. Encouraging your team to adopt an ownership mindset can strengthen your relationships with them and reduce the need for challenging conversations about performance. It can also contribute to higher employee satisfaction and improve your organization's quality of work. However, it's crucial to recognize that employees are responsible for embracing this mindset shift. Understanding the benefits it offers them is essential.

By cultivating an ownership mindset, employees are empowered to:

  • Trust their managers and team
  • Develop pride and autonomy
  • Learn new skills
  • Build a portfolio for a promotion

Building employee autonomy

To foster a culture where everyone feels a sense of ownership, it's essential to adapt your approach to team management. Instead of merely delegating tasks, view your role as facilitating your team's development and growth. According to Insperity, this involves these key practices:

  • Demonstrating enthusiasm for projects and setting an example for your team to follow
  • Gaining a deep understanding of your team members, including their challenges, aspirations, skills, and motivations
  • Clarifying how their actions and contributions contribute to broader impacts and outcomes
  • Identifying opportunities for training and mentorship to help team members expand their skills
  • Actively listening to your team's ideas, incorporating them where possible, and acknowledging their impact
  • Recognizing and appreciating team members who demonstrate the desired behaviors, possibly through an employee recognition program
  • Trusting your team to take ownership of their responsibilities, as micromanagement can hinder the development of an ownership mindset
  • Encouraging open communication by seeking feedback from your team on your performance.

When you empower your employees to take on greater accountability and authority, it not only benefits your company but also requires you to show them increased respect, appreciation, and trust. One way to foster this ownership mindset is by actively seeking feedback from your team. Approach a few team members and inquire about their perspectives on your performance, areas for improvement, and ways you can support them better. Be patient and allow them time to reflect if they're not accustomed to such discussions. Then, follow up to demonstrate your commitment to their growth and empowerment.

Managing a team of owners entails a fundamental shift in leadership philosophy and approach. It requires a departure from traditional hierarchical structures towards a more collaborative and empowering leadership style. As a leader, you must relinquish the notion of micromanagement and embrace a mindset centered on trust, autonomy, and accountability. Instead of dictating tasks and overseeing every aspect of your team's work, you must empower them to take ownership of their roles, make decisions autonomously, and contribute meaningfully to the organization's objectives.

This shift in mindset also warrants reevaluating your role as a leader. Rather than being the sole authority figure, you become more of a facilitator and coach, guiding your team members toward success while providing the support and resources they need to thrive. This involves adopting a more collaborative and inclusive approach to decision-making, where team members are encouraged to voice their opinions, share ideas, and contribute to the collective team vision. By fostering a culture of ownership, you create an environment where every team member feels valued, empowered, and motivated to excel.

Managing a team of owners requires a commitment to ongoing growth and development, for yourself and your team members. It involves embracing a mindset of continuous learning and improvement, where feedback is welcomed, mistakes are viewed as opportunities for growth, and innovation is encouraged. As a leader, you must be open to new ideas, willing to adapt to changing circumstances, and committed to providing opportunities for learning and development. By investing in the growth and development of your team members, you not only empower them to reach their full potential but also cultivate a culture of excellence and innovation within your organization.