How to Teach People to Take Ownership

According to the teambuilding literature over the last 70 years, when teams perform highly, three things consistently appear:

1: People go beyond what they are asked to do. The more you drive accountability, the less that’s probably going to happen.

2: Yes, there is indeed high performance. The team members are very productive, add tremendous value, and the project is very successful because they go beyond what they’re asked to do.

3: The team is having a great time doing the work. The work itself is its own reward.

How many managers wouldn’t love to figure out how to have all three of those things over and over — yet we’re focusing on holding people to account rather than creating cultures where people step up to take ownership.

I have dedicated myself to creating happy and free workplaces and to get people out of the mindset of Shame and Obligation where they can move to the resourceful place in our minds called Responsibility.

The Responsibility ProcessIt turns out Responsibility is just a mental state we get to every now and then around challenges.

Responsibility is subjective — how much or how little of your reality you take ownership of is up to you. The more of your reality you decide to take ownership of, the faster you’ll grow, the happier you’ll be.

When we cross over from Obligation to Responsibility, we open up far more complex reasoning processes. In order for that to happen, we actually have to expand our awareness, expand our perception, which means we’re able to see things more clearly.

We see paths to success or paths to moving forward or paths to productive action that we could not see when we’re in mental state that says, “I’m trapped.”

The longer you wallow in your feeling of Shame, the longer it takes you to grow. Instead, forgive yourself for being human and expand your thinking so that you can get away from being a victim.

I really want people to get away from the feeling of Obligation, because obligation is where I find professionals live in the corporate world.

There is no learning or growing in any of the mental states below Responsibility.

There are three keys to Responsibility.

The Three Keys to Responsibility™

The first key is Intention. Intend to get to Responsibility every time, during every upset.

The second key is Awareness. Become more and more aware of your mental position in The Responsibility Process.

The third key is Confront: Be willing to face yourself in order to get new insight and see things as they are.

I don’t mean confrontation, I don’t mean getting into other people’s faces — I mean getting in your own face. Only by facing when you messed up will you actually grow.

I am tired of leadership being about persuasion and influence — 95 percent of leadership for me is self-leadership, and if you step up to this level, you’re going to find people wanting to come assist you and follow you.

Get Started With This 5-Minute Practice Tip

Download and print The Responsibility Process poster PDF. Then divide up the whiteboard, and write Lay Blame, Justify, Shame, Obligation, Quit, and Responsibility on it. Then give the team a hundred points for every phrase they come up with about how they as a team blame suppliers, customers, other teams; how they justify; how they beat themselves up, etc.

In the future, when those phrases come up, team members will be far more aware. This is an important exercise for you and your team because every department, every company has their own private language about how they collude to cope instead of having to actually grow and take ownership.

Posted in Responsibility on 09/22/2014 01:56 am
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