Essential skills for aspiring leaders: Ownership

Whatever the situation – choose to have ownership. Ownership will make you a better person and naturally, a better leader.

Leaders are built – not born.

No one is born a great leader or manager. They learn, adapt, grow, hone skills and improve – sometimes by trial and error over time.

Be focused and curious – always!

I can attest from my experience that being focused and curious are key. Focus on key strengths and be inquisitive at every opportunity to grow and develop that strength.

Finding out where to focus and what to be curious about can be a challenge.

Based on my personal experience, these are the 5 essential skills that aspiring leaders and managers need to be successful.

The big 5!

#1 Awareness

#2 Communication

#3 Courage

#4 Humbleness


I will dive into the nitty-gritty of these in separate posts.

Work hard, stay focused and develop your strengths. This worked for me and it just might work for you too.

Today’s post is #5 on my list – Ownership. To hone your skills and learn about the other essential skills, click on the links above.

#5 Ownership 

How ownership made me a better person


Whatever the situation – choose to have ownership. Ownership will make you a better person and naturally, a better leader.

Ownership in leading and managing others is vital.

If you don’t agree or aren’t sure and are not totally sold on this statement it’s likely that you know it’s importance to gaining success. Understanding why ownership is vital will help you achieve whatever it is you want to achieve – simply by doing it better.

Its takes courage to choose ownership as its often easy to be a ‘negatron’ and blame others. Be accountable, make some adjustments, ask others for help and craft a new plan.

But I’m not the leader…

You don’t have to be the leader, or in a leadership role to show leadership qualities. You don’t have to sit in your own office or have people reporting to you to act like a leader. Aspiring leaders learn from anyone who inspires them: from above, below or next to them. Work out how you can support the team and how can we, as a team, be better.

Focus on what the next steps are for the team not just what ‘your’ next steps are. You will find that they go hand in hand – when the team succeeds you succeed. And if you are the leader – say thanks to the team and praise them to your boss – be quiet but not silent!

What’s your plan?

No matter if you’re a current or aspiring leader, it’s important to cultivate a sense of ownership from your team and yourself.

Try these practices to promote a culture of ownership:

  • say it out aloud – ‘we have ownership of this problem and the solution’ or, ‘as the leader I have ownership of XYZ’ or, ‘we (as a team) are the product owners for this process…’ etc
  • include everyone from all levels within your team to craft a solution
  • use brainstorming to encourage great ideas. When brainstorming with your team, remember:
    • job titles aren’t related to being creative
    • share all the crazy ideas (that’s why it’s called brainstorming!)
    • everyone’s input is equally important
    • offer words of encouragement, and
    • this should be fun, so be goofy and have a laugh too

Promote a culture where blaming others is not accepted and share Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) data with your team. What can they see..?

 Responsibility vs Accountability

Ownership will make you a better person and naturally, a better leader.What’s the difference between being responsible and being accountable? Often these words are used interchangeably and, on occasion this makes sense.

With ownership – it’s crucial to define who is responsible and who is accountable.

If you are responsible for a task, then you do what you are asked to do.

If you are accountable for the same task, you agree to do what you supposed to do.

Without trying to go all dictionary like on you, this means…

If you’re responsible then you perform the task and if you’re accountable you have to take ownership, and are therefore liable, for the completion of the task.

For example –

Your team members (direct reports) are responsible for each piece of work they receive, the inbound calls and customer solutions they provide.

As the leader of the team you are accountable for these collective tasks being completed against set criteria – on time, high quality, good customer service, for example.

As the leader you agree to be held accountable – it comes with the job.


Holding yourself and individuals in your team accountable will promote a culture of responsibility. Importantly, you must be consistently delivering this the right way.

Arnold H Glascow’s well-known quote –

“A good leader takes little more than his share of the blame and little less than his share of the credit.”

A culture of responsibility includes when things go right. It’s okay to highlight individuals when things go well or even the whole team for that matter. Look for opportunities to praise the wins – even the small ones.

If you want to stand out and be the best leader your team has ever had then don’t be afraid to take ownership of the result, be creative in your problem solving and praise the team when things go well.

Never stop learning,



  1. Pingback: Essential skills for aspiring leaders: round-up – Middle Manager Mentor

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *