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Owners do whatever it takes to achieve goals.
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Be An Owner

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When you first experienced ownership of a home or a car, you likely remember the excitement and enthusiasm and the strong desire to care for your newly acquired possession. Owners have an innate sense of responsibility and accountability to the core mission of an organization. Owners care always and connect their personal identity and worth to the work of the organization.

Ownership is more than employee “buy-in” or lack of resistance when change or barriers bring stress. If you own your organization as an employee, you are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish goals and live out the mission and you experience great satisfaction and pride when the organization succeeds, just as you would celebrate the success of a child or spouse. Owners are in for the long haul and will do whatever it takes to achieve the goals. They bring their best every day and own it personally at all times, no matter what.

High-performing organizations want to fill their employee ranks with owners and effective leaders seek to recruit employees who exhibit ownership, while at the same time strategically developing ownership in current employees. Fortunately, there are several leader best practices that can be acquired and developed that result in increased capacity of leaders to find, hire, and retain owners within their organizational ranks.


Leaders maintain a laser focus on ownership behavior by displaying it and acknowledging it in others. It is important for leaders to:

  • Live like an owner. Employees and stakeholders watch what the leader does ALWAYS
  • Lead employees to develop and implement Standards of Behavior or Standards of Excellence
  • Reward and recognize displays of owner behavior to maintain a constant focus on “what right looks like”
  • Hold those who lack ownership accountable for their behavior and constantly seek to help them become owners


Leaders lead by Always owning the organization in good times and in challenging times.

  • State the mission/vision of the organization early and often to employees and invite discussion about what it means to bring the organization’s mission and vision to life daily.
  • Model owner behavior daily and particularly in times of challenge. Maintain emotional control and maintain the focus on reaching goals and achieving the mission.

Develop and implement Standards of Behavior or Standards of Excellence.

  • Convene high performing employees to work on defining the core values of the organization.
  • Gather employee input into a draft set of standards and support the team to finalize the standards as a description and roadmap of ownership behavior.
  • Roll out the standards to all employees and provide time for understanding, by leading activities involving the standards and building a presence of the standards in the form of posters, videos, website presence, role play, etc.

Reward and recognize ownership behavior in employees.

  • Informally and formally note ownership behavior and point it out with thank you notes, shout-outs, and public recognition of ownership in action.
  • With a team of employees, develop a system of peer to peer recognition of ownership behavior.
  • Frequently communicate the results of owner behavior with stories and anecdotes.

Hold renters accountable and set plans for improvement.

  • Set clear expectations for adherence to ownership behavior, focusing on the “why.”
  • Conduct individual conversations with those employees lacking ownership, emphasizing the impact of this on the organization, their colleagues, and those they serve, focusing on steps and a timeline for improvement.
  • Set a course for these employees to move to ownership and clearly communicate the consequences of continued negative behavior (including possible termination).

Grow Owners

Owners are deeply committed to organizational performance. They often take personal responsibility when things go wrong and immediately begin looking for solutions. This is the type of behavior organizations seek to replicate. To grow owners in your organization, find ways to deliberately and publicly highlight displays of ownership behavior in others.