Renting vs. Owning–Creating a culture of organizational ownership

The neighborhood in Phoenix where I grew up was a mixture of buyers and renters. It was fairly easy to spot the difference between the two. Renters had what I call “bare minimum syndrome.” Their attitude was, “hey, I don’t own this, so why bother.” Some of the lawns were so long and unkempt that they were on the list to be declared National wetlands (and we’re talking about Phoenix here). Basically, as a kid, I figured The Munsters must have rented their house, because the rented houses on my street looked a lot like theirs.

Houses on my street that were owned were a different story. I mean the juxtaposition between the rented and owned houses was remarkable—particularly when they were right next to each other. Simply put, owners cared. They cared about their lawns, their roofs, their plumbing and the fact that the rented house looked like well…The Munster’s house.. And that is why leadership matters.

Leadership is about ownership.

The best leaders create an environment of ownership in their organizations. They do this because they know that if people feel ownership, they will care about what they do (and about what happens to the organization). I coach a lot of leaders. One of the biggest complaints I consistently hear from leaders is that their employees don’t care enough about what happens to the company. The employees don’t see or do the little and big things that would make a real difference. They don’t take care of the lawn or pay attention to the shingles falling off the roof, if you will. It’s normally at that point that I talk about– you guessed it—The Munsters.

So, what can you do to create ownership in your organization? Well, that’s probably for another article. But, here are a few ideas:

• Give people a voice and really listen to them
• Include people, appropriately, in the decision making process
• Hold people to high standards and celebrate victories

Creating a culture of ownership creates energy, innovation and yes, leadership. When people drive by your organization, they will immediately recognize that you and your employees are not renters.

2009-01-12T16:03:12-04:00

2 Comments

  1. KC January 13, 2009 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    Dave, I notice that you appropriately say "involve others in the decision-making process." I agree with this. At what point, however, does the leader take all of the information presented and make the decision? We are not talking about "consensus" are we? I have noticed in my organization, which is now trying to adapt a more user-friendly labor-management process, that the focus is on consensus. As a leader, I feel stripped of my ability to lead. To the point: all members of an organization should have a seat at the table to provide input into the decision-making process, but at the end of the day the leader should take that information and make an informed decision; as opposed to trying to find consensus or common ground. Your thoughts?

  2. Dave Fleming January 14, 2009 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    What a great question Kelly. Consensus has it’s place, but dialogue is often better. Let me see if I can find an article I wrote on dialogue and decision making and I will post it on the blog.

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