Your Ownership Reveals Your Leadership

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Updated from June 15, 2015 post

As the leadership team from the Willow Creek Association puts its final touches on our 2016 plan, it calls to mind a vital leadership lesson that emerged in a previous meeting.

At issue in this meeting of Willow Creek Association leaders, was the direction of a successful initiative. The initiative had been launched by a particular department a few years ago, and had since grown well beyond the scope of that one department. It now was a part of virtually every aspect of the organization.

But with this growth it was now realized that the department who launched it, and that department’s leader, were now merely one part of a much larger whole.

And so, the inevitable question was raised.

“So, who’s leading this thing, anyways?”

The answer to that question would come by delving in to 3 crucial leadership principles. And these are three pretty good questions that can bring clarity to your own leadership too.

1.      If you lead it, you need to own it.

To figure out who should be leading this initiative the first thing I looked for was “Who really owns this?”

“Who lives and breathes these results? Who lies awake thinking about this? Who kicks over trash cans when this initiative isn’t going well?”

Those are signs of ownership.

And the person who has the highest level of ownership needs to be calling the shots.

2.      If you don’t own it, you can’t lead it.

It doesn’t matter what the organization chart says. It doesn’t matter what the business cards say.

Just because an initiative happens to fall within someone’s job description doesn’t make that person the best leader.

If there’s just no ownership, there’s just no leadership.

3.      The higher your ownership, the higher your leadership

Ownership and leadership are inextricably linked. Want to raise your level of leadership? Raise the level of your ownership.

Here’s the point. When you look at the things you believe you’ve been called upon to lead, ask yourself, “Do I really have a sense of ownership over this?”

If the answer is “Not really,” take the high road and find out where that level of ownership really does sit.

Chances are, that’s where the real leadership is sitting.

Are you leading anything you’re not really owning?


the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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