I had a conversation earlier this week with my friend, Mike, who was wondering how to go about building ownership mentality and accountability into his growing team of emerging leaders. He convinced me that I might be able to help some other new Emerging Leaders to discover their path to developing ownership and accountability among their teammates.
Choose an Open Attitude and Mindset: Before you begin, check your attitude and your mindset. Are you open to change and ready to lead a team of associates to adopt a mindset that not only overcomes obstacles and adversity but welcomes them? Did you hear me right? Yes, I said you should realize that overcoming adversity and problems, and obliterating obstacles is the first step toward becoming stronger and more capable in the future. Never let mere adversity to stop your forward progress. Adversity is a fact of life, and the most intelligent and emotionally balanced people realize that if it weren’t for life’s adversities, the victories wouldn’t taste so sweet. Get after forward progress and approach adversity with resilience and relish the struggle, knowing it prepares you for a better future.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: Make sure that you communicate your expectations and goals to your team with absolute candor and clarity, so that there is no chance for misunderstanding or confusion. Keep your communications brief and simple. Don’t over complicate the destination so that your team can maximize their contributions as you pursue the summit and deliver ambitious results. Never let the team be misinformed or confused about your expectations and goals. They must be crystal clear, and you must make sure your team knows where you want to go, and also understands the context of the why behind the destination.
Adopt A Learning Culture: We all enjoy celebrating victories, and we learn from winning. Make sure that you also celebrate the losses and learn from them. Celebrate the losses? Are you out of your mind, Michael? Perhaps I am a bit out of my mind, but hear me out. If you recognize that you can learn how to win next time when you lose this time, is that not one step closer to victory? I’m aware that it is much more difficult to study your mistakes and to learn from them than it is to celebrate a victory, but the learning is often more valuable than you might imagine. That’s why you should celebrate a loss and study it, so you can learn how to win next time.
Don’t Forget to Take Intelligent Risks: Keep your eyes open for opportunities to accelerate your forward momentum by identifying intelligent risks that you can take now, rather than later. Exercise courage and conviction to boldly move forward today, and break new ground. Be willing to lead from the front, and set the pace, blazing a new trail. Remember, someone has to be the first one, the courageous one who is the first to climb the mountain. Trust me on this, the view is better from the lead, than from the back of the pack. Don’t bring up the rear, get out front!
Don’t Be Afraid to Hold Your Teammates Accountable: It is important to ensure that you hold EVERYONE accountable for effort and results. Too many companies allow for inconsistent accountability. Too many teams allow for sacred cows to avoid being held up to the same standards of performance that others must measure up to. It is important that you be consistent in holding all accountable. It is a profoundly bad idea to convince yourself to play favorites with your teams and give someone a free pass when it comes to accountability. Realize that your Top Performers will watch closely and expect that you will hold all team members accountable equally and fairly. Top Performers overachieve because they are driven to do so. They will not appreciate overachieving while a teammate is allowed to underperform and coast. Respect that your highest potential players will expect that others match their effort and sacrifice. Get on the right side of the performance issue by holding everyone up to the same high standards, and then everyone will benefit.
Teach Your Team to Be Candid: Too many teams struggle when it is time to hold one another accountable because team members are reluctant to criticize or step on someone else’s toes. Realize that being willing to challenge or call out underperformance from your colleague is one of the toughest challenges for most employees. If they are not trained to do it properly, it can get off track very quickly, so invest some time to teach your team how to constructively and productively challenge one another and hold one another accountable for commitments. It’s important for people to develop the ability to be honest with one another while remaining professional, balanced and avoiding personal attacks. If you tell someone something with the intention of helping them to greater success, it is easier to stay in a psychologically safe place and difficult for them to object to your feedback. Leaders need to teach their teams how to have professional dialogue and debate, and how to have positive, constructive conflict. Until your team can disagree with one another respectfully, they will all avoid conflict and slow the company to a crawl.
Building ownership mentality among your team is critical work, and it will be challenging for most of us until we gain some experience and some confidence. To some of you, it may seem nearly impossible, but I have seen many a business leader get started and in a short time, begin to impact their company culture in a very positive manner with a reasonable amount of effort. When every member of the team is pulling their oar in the right direction, and rowing at the right cadence, there is no telling what your team will be capable of. My wish for you is that you decide to get started and let me know how it goes as you build momentum. If you reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we will send you our Ownership Mentality Best Practices document, with the 25 Best Practices at no cost or obligation.
Michael is an award-winning business advisor and executive development coach who works with medium-sized companies all over the United States. Michael enjoys helping C-Suite Executives, their Leadership Teams, and their Emerging Leaders to develop a culture of high-performance collaboration and strong teamwork. Consider subscribing to our YouTube Channel and gaining free access to Michael’s videos on business excellence and leadership.