I have an Ownership Attitude. But I’m a team member. What?
I’ve seen articles about it, heard our clients discussing their desire for their team members to possess it, and even witnessed fellow colleagues talk about how they have it. But if I’m going to be honest (and this is a confessional, after all), there is something about this term that doesn’t sit well with me.
I gather—from all my investigative reporting—that having an ownership attitude means being passionate about the company, making sacrifices for it, making tough decisions, being responsible for its failures, and being rewarded for its successes.
My question is, why is this attitude reserved only for owners?
Recently, my amazing colleague Shannon Waller made an interesting observation that has really had me thinking: The role of a business owner/entrepreneur is to “make it up,” and it’s up to us, the team members, to “make it real” and to “make it recur.” I really like this distinction, because it feels like a partnership. I’d like to think the trick to really making this owner-team member partnership work is that both people actually possess this attitude of commitment and purpose toward their own unique contribution—not just the owner. Dan Sullivan calls this attitude “batteries included.”
As a Program designer and project manager, I get to work directly with the owners of Strategic Coach, Dan and Babs, which puts me on the ground floor for all the amazing innovation and leadership that the Coach has to offer—and I love it. Dan and Babs have spent more than 25 years creating this amazing company, and every day, I get to work to make their vision real. I signed up for this job for that very reason!
The passion, vision, frustration, direction, responsibility, and excitement that I come to work with each day all come from my own need to have a purpose and to create value, not because I secretly think of myself as the owner. I am a team member with purpose.
Having said that, there are a few “owner-esque” strategies I’ve noticed Dan and Babs use to set the team up to be autonomous and successful:
- They are very clear about their vision for the company. (It’s hard to passionately get behind something if you don’t know what it is.)
- They have a “no-defense” policy. They want us to be able to make decisions without worrying about taking a wrong step. They’re very clear that they want us playing an offensive game, not a defensive one.
- They recognize, organize, and encourage the team’s strengths and Unique Abilities. It’s their ultimate “unfair advantage”!
For now, I’m I going to continue to let my attitude be driven by my own purpose and keep my fingers crossed that the owners keep me around. Pretty please?
And, as an aside, if a team member doesn’t have “it”—an attitude of purpose and value creation (or whatever “it” means to you)—asking them to act like an owner isn’t going to give it to them. They’ll just take longer lunches!