graphic team members working together

How to Encourage the Attitude of Ownership With Your Team

It’s no secret that I cut my teeth in the retail grocery industry business with what was, at the time, the world’s most consistently profitable chain, with few equals before or since. I could write at least five blogs about the attitude of ownership that built an undeniably successful culture of loyalty and performance in a highly competitive industry.

Every leader, organization, and enterprise would love to replicate and indeed has stated as a 2023 goal to create the attitude of ownership required to produce the kind of results that come from the productivity inherent within great cultures.

3 Signs Your Team Needs an Ownership Mindset

How do you know your team could benefit from this mindset shift? Consider your results and the behavior that culminated in that outcome. For example, in terms of measurable success (i.e., revenue, margin, etc.), your team likely achieved moderate success. However, as you consider the contributions of each team member, it’s clear that their impact was discernably different from one another. Some needed explicit instructions. Others brought innovation to problem-solving, went above and beyond with customers, and did the work that needed to be done rather than only what was assigned to them. We could label their approach as the “spirit of the law” instead of the “letter of the law.”

Consider how you have led your team after identifying some of this inconsistent behavior. Were the six keys to building independent, accountable teams (communicate, delegate, motivate, recruit, collaborate, and develop) consistently used? Did you deliver the answer to every question rather than asking thought-provoking questions? Are your team members flustered with their performance review because they did “all that was asked” and cannot seem to understand that, while true, that is mediocre?

If you would like to break through the limitation of mediocre results, adopting an Ownership Attitude could be a game changer in 2023.

What is an Ownership Attitude?

There are many ways to describe the ownership attitude. Most are decidedly different from the cynical response you’ve heard from business owners stating that they would love their team members to think like an owner. This is typically when we hear, “but they are not the owners, so it’s ridiculous to expect them to think that way.” The insinuation is that non-owners see no benefit in the ownership attitude and behavior, presumably because there is no reward.

Here’s how an ownership attitude benefits the individual and collective organization. Ownership attitude sees responsibility as something they get to do, not something they have to do. They see minimum goals as an entry point rather than a finishing point, and they see their contribution as bigger than themselves.

The Attitude of Ownership: How to Encourage Your Team

Encouraging your team to embrace the attitude of ownership will require you to see the landscape from their perspective. Any advantage should first be described in terms that serve them rather than the leader or organization. In that spirit, include the following three components to cement ownership for every member with clarity, simplicity, and direction.

talent dynamics graph

Encourage the attitude of ownership by being clear about your “why.”

Some years ago, Simon Sinek moved from obscurity to fame with his Ted Talk, Start with Why. My profiling system, Talent Dynamics, based on the Chinese I Ching, frames the eight “genius types” into four frequencies. They can be described with the native questions for each: what, who, when, and how. Then, we call out that the unifying principle is “why.” No matter how individuals approach, assess, and solve problems, understanding the foundation of “why” the organization exists will unify during the most difficult days while inspiring when things are going well.

people on a bus

Right People, Right Seats

Many of us continue to use the framework of seats-on-the-bus made ubiquitous by author Jim Collins. Think of your organization chart as seats on a bus. Each requires the person in the seat to conceive, believe, and then achieve the requirements of that seat. This is the foundation of ownership to deeply understand what success looks like. To possess a committed passion for executing and then delivering results. In this metaphor, you could see how destructive it would be if the leader were to grab the steering wheel (micro manage) from the driver. Do you have the right people in the right seat that conceive, believe, and can achieve results?

two women having a conversation over coffee


Dr. Susan Scott, the author of Fierce Conversations, describes the transparency of conversations as “interrogating reality.” At the same time, Kim Scott of Radical Candor fame would call this caring personally while challenging directly. My mother would advise that when communicating with your team, never attempt to be too clever by half. Communication is a process, and as a leader, you will need to continuously reinforce your company’s mission, vision, and purpose with your calls to action. You will draw the right people with the ability to succeed with shared core values if you are consistently transparent with your intent.


Much of this article resonates with you if you’re like so many of the business owners and leaders I’ve known, worked with, or coached. It also may feel a bit frustrating because you’re either unsure how to implement such a structure or you’ve done much of this work and are not getting the expected result. Let’s talk. Working with me will bring simplicity, clarity, and direction built on your current level of success. If you want to step beyond a meet-and-greet, kick the tires with a Breakthrough Strategy Session.

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