Ownership – willingness to behave responsibly
In an organisation, is it possible to survive, let alone grow without taking responsibility? The ability and willingness to take ownership is the mantra for a successful career progression. In fact I feel that ownership is an attitude, which allows much more than just a myopic view of our own career, it is a mentality present in certain people. It is these people who are responsible for the growth, stability, profits and prosperity of the company. These are the people who eat, breathe, and love their business almost like an extension of their selves.
Why is this value so important in an organisation? Is it being accountable? You may think that being accountable is the same thing as taking ownership. But, being accountable means you are answerable and willing to accept the outcomes or results. Ownership goes much further. When you say, “I am the person who must make this happen,” that is the moment when you take full charge of the situation and stop assuming someone else will step in or save the situation.
In my career I have encountered many situations when accountability has often been confused with ownership. My experience has taught me that, employees who work based on accountability, work to avoid punishment rather than achieve positive outcomes. Ownership stimulates and causes enthusiasm. It’s about goals, ideas and for the good of the organization as a whole, working as a part of a team, thinking about how to improve every measurable. They have a result oriented approach, because in an organisation any action which does not give a desired result is a futile investment of resources.
In fact I clearly remember it was sometime in the early 1990’s when I was asked to take charge of the Meenakshi mills at Madurai and ensure a smooth settlement of disputes and liquidation of the assets. But after a discussion with the workers and staff there, I changed my mind and decided to turn the business around. Little did I know then, that I had bitten off more than I could chew.
Couple of months later, I realised, that it was not an easy task, I did not know too much about the spinning business. In fact, more than once, I was tempted to drop everything and go back. But then, the stubborn streak in me would not let me do it. I did not give up and there was a time, when I would eat, drink, sleep, dream and breathe the spinning business. I had decided, I would not allow myself to fail.
It took me and my team at Madurai seven years to achieve the first break even, but we did it. It was a phase, where each one of those employees lived the passion with madness. As a leader, the outcome was exhilarating and humbling at the same time. It made me realise, that as a leader, it is important to Inspire and drive teams to strive for excellence and extraordinary results. Connected employees feel alive when faced with challenges and love putting their heads to find solutions. I believe “Dream the impossible but, have the passion and madness in you to achieve it”.
In my many years of working life, I have noticed, that the real leaders are the people who take ownership for their teams and encourage them to
1. Be mindful of the work they are doing
2. They take a genuine interest, be creative, innovate and think out of the box.
3. Empower and trust people to make decisions and in turn encourage ownership in them.
4. Cultivate optimism and learn from their mistake
5. Simplify work and define priorities clearly\
6. Seek genuine feedback and act upon it to improve themselves
Don’t forget, the best leaders set goals and let competent professionals choose the best way to achieve them. Results and ideas should be collective, bringing together individual skills and competencies. It also creates a much more enjoyable and light-hearted work environment.