Reflexies Blog 2

Blog - What about Taking Ownership?

A previous blog post talked about the universe as shareware and exclusive property being a delusion. Another interesting aspect of the delusion of property and ownership extends to leadership and organizational behavior. In my work as a facilitator, I often addressed the theme of ‘ownership’ with clients. Taking ownership was a core notion in realizing mindset and behavior change. Managers and team – all employees – had to take ownership of their targets, their teams, their customers, their company to achieve truly great results.

Why did this topic give rise to so much resistance, oftentimes? And why were those employees who did take full ownership of their part of the business so often the ones who burned out?

Again, it took me some time – or rather some awareness shifting – to see.

But it is shockingly simple: employees can never take ownership in a healthy, sustainable way, simply because they aren’t the owners! Look at it from a systemic viewpoint: an employer, be it a privately or publicly owned company, tells their employees, “I want you to take ownership of your work (BU, department, team, …).” But the employees do not get to choose what they do with their work, because it is the employer who decides on the strategy. And… the employees do not get the results of their work, because the employer has instead offered a deal: “In return for your ‘taking ownership’, I cover the volatility of the results by paying you a more or less predictable compensation, while I take the profits and the losses.”

Employees will naturally make efforts in correspondence with the compensation they are being paid, but it is not natural that they will care for the business as they would if it were their own. And if they do so nevertheless, chances that they will sooner or later either drop out or be made redundant are huge. After all, do you consider it a fair exchange of energy?