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A Culture of Ownership

We are now firmly in the midst of the festive feeling. Can you feel the productivity dropping? Some of your colleagues might already be telling everyone when their last day is and where they are going for the holidays. For some, work responsibilities are starting to fade into the background of priorities. This is probably the best time to figure out if you are engaged at work or not. The list of possible and completely understandable excuses are growing each day. Some people simply choose not to use those excuses and seem like they are never going to take leave. What do these people have in common?

Ownership. Usually the product owners, the team managers, the person with whom the buck stops are always ready to go the extra mile. When you understand that the things you are busy with are your responsibility, the list of excuses start shrinking. So, everyone can’t be product owners or managers, right? We’ll just have to live with it…

No. Creating a culture of ownership does not imply everyone has the title. It implies that everyone understands two very important things about the work they are busy with. Firstly, you need to understand where your team is going, how your team is going to get there and where your work fits into the picture. Secondly, you need to understand that you have complete authority and sole responsibility for the execution of your work. Of course, you depend on those around you and sometimes you have to wait on external forces, but once you understand ownership, your list of excuses remain small.

When trying to force the issue of ownership, lazy managers fall into the habit of being overly strict and are quick to use the disciplinary code to its full worth. Ironically, that behaviour drives ownership down! Fear and ownership do not mix. Empowerment and ownership however do mix, and it means that leaders need to be able to release some control and authority, and for some, it’s simply too much to bear.

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