Ownership – to many it is the Holy Grail of leadership. Leaders everywhere want answers to questions like: "How do I get other people to care as much as I do?
"How do I get other people to 'take the bull by the horns' and take ownership of the project, process or task I’ve given them?"
Or in a more modern parlance, "How do I get others to want to 'Git 'r done?'"
These are good questions, questions that get to the heart of delegation and effectively involving others in work tasks. And, as with most good questions, there are a variety of answers that provide insights and solutions. As a leader, as well as watching and consulting with leaders for the last 20 years, I’ve found some answers to these questions.
But before I get to some answers, I have a question for you.
Why do you want to hand off the task to someone else?
Your answer to my question will help determine your success in finding the answers to yours.
Your intent will play a big role in how successfully you will transfer ownership to someone else. Are you handing off the task because you don’t have time? Or are you handing off the task because you believe the other person (or group) can do it successfully? Are you turning it over because it is expedient, or because it is a development opportunity?
The Benefits of Greater Ownership
The benefits of creating ownership are many – far beyond alleviating some of the stress associated with work you have to do. When people really own their work they:
--Take greater pride in the work and its success
--Work harder and more diligently
--Work smarter and more productively
--Apply themselves more fully – using more of their creativity and heart
--Learn more in the process
--Some Answers to Your Questions
So, just how do you create that ownership?
How do we help our colleagues want to git ‘r done?
Let it go. Three little words – one huge concept. This is perhaps the most important and probably the most difficult answer of all. If you want people to have ownership, you have to give it to them. If you sell someone a car, they now own it. You don’t hold onto a set of the keys. You let the car go, regardless of how much you loved it, or how concerned you might be about how well they will take care of it. If you want others to own a project or task, you have to turn it over to them, and let them do it. Plus, when you have mentally let go of the project or task, the answers that follow will come much easier.
Provide the big picture. For people to feel the most confidence and to create the best results, they need to see the big picture. Let people know how this project or task relates to the bigger goals. Make sure they know who the Customers are and how their success will impact others or the organization.
Be supportive and encouraging. Once you have turned over the keys, your job is to be supportive. Be available to answer questions. Help them with resources or advice. Be supportive but don’t rescue. If it is theirs, they need to own it – if you rescue them by taking it back, you erode their confidence and show them through your actions (however well intentioned) that they never owned it to start with.
Ask more than tell. When you have handed off the project, people will have questions. You will want to answer their questions, but remember that they may need your ears more than your mouth. Ask them how they will solve their challenge, rather than solving it for them. Listen carefully (an important part of your support) and help when needed, but talk less and listen more.
Focus on the result – don’t worry about the details. If you’ve given the project to someone, you have given them full license to the details and the “how’s”. Too often leaders want someone else to do the work, but they want it done their way. When you hand work off in this way, you aren’t generating ownership, only creating another pair of hands. If you want them to own it – and bring their whole selves to the work, you have to let them own the details and the “how’s.” It is your role to help them see the “why’s” or the desired results (see “Provide the big picture” above), but if you’ve given them the responsibility, you need to give them the opportunity to get to the results in the way they think will work best.
Some of these answers are easy; some may be much harder for you personally. The more of these things you can do, the more successful you will be in creating partners – people committed to and feeling ownership for the work they do and the results that are achieved.
Stated another way, you will be most successful in creating a feeling of ownership in others when you are truly wanting them to own something, rather than just taking it off of your plate. Look at your motives before you delegate the next time. If you truly want or need a pair of hands, make sure you delegate with that frame of mind and let people know that is your intent. But if you truly want to create ownership, make sure you consider – and take action on – the answers outlined above.
Copyright © 2006 - All Rights Reserved, Kevin Eikenberry and The Kevin Eikenberry Group.
Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. To receive your free special report on Unleashing Your Potential go to http://www.kevineikenberry.com/uypw/index.asp or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.
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