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How to Build a Team That Takes Extreme Ownership

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

I shared this image of some of our founding team members on a different post on LinkedIn yesterday. As a leader, I still cannot find the words for my appreciation and utter awe of the way my colleagues across every level of our organizations over the past 19 years, have taken extreme ownership to drive organizational vision with purpose and excellence.

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

-Phil Jackson

So, how do you build a team that takes extreme ownership?

1. Hire for Conviction

If you can, start building a team that takes extreme ownership during the hiring process.

Hire people with conviction; people of character who want to contribute to removing barriers and generating solutions for others.

Ask them where they want to go in life and be honest whether working with you will help them get there.

Don't waste each other's time if you see the relationship will not yield value or could potentially only benefit one party. This will work badly for you both in the long run.

2. Onboard Personally

Whether a founding leader or one that joined down the line, endeavor to go beyond presenting the company basics during the onboarding process. Instead, openly share your story; how it led you to do what you are doing here, why this place and work matters, and invite them to share theirs.

This will create a bond between two purpose-driven professionals that have chosen to align for a season to champion a cause that's greater than them. A cause that will also fulfill each person's purpose, vision, and assignment in this season.

You can then share expectations and commit to open and regular communication to review how your arrangement is working between you and between them and the rest of the team.

3. Train for 360º Success

While most companies focus on technical training, I urge you to also include Emotional Intelligence, Business Ethics & Etiquette, Business Communication & Negotiation, and Leadership Training for every single recruit.

If you are concerned about the zeroes behind your Training and Development budget, look for creative ways to transform mindsets and deliver these critical skills, whether that be investing in a Train the Trainer that can deploy programs in-house, or subscribing to a service that provides access to multiple users.

Your team can only take extreme ownership if they feel confident that they are equipped and equal to any challenge they face.

“None of us is as smart as all of us.”

-Ken Blanchard

4. Leverage Strengths

Throughout the hiring, onboarding, training processes, and daily interactions with each individual on your team and observing the team dynamics as a whole, you can already identify individual and team strengths you can leverage to position people and groups where they perform best and bring out the best in others.

So, do just that. Reshuffle, re-allocate responsibilities, expose to cross-functional projects and even add increased complexity and responsibility to help them stretch and grow in areas of individual and team strengths.

This will broaden and deepen their business understanding and confidence to leverage their strengths to contribute to performance and growth.

5. Mentor-Lead

Relate with each individual and team with the intent of developing them into leaders. Mentor-lead them to not only take ownership of their work but of the wider business strategy.

Whether or not you have earmarked any for succession, when you mentor-lead each person, you are equipping them with executive perspective and decision-making power such that no matter their title or position, they will likely step up to initiate action, generate ideas, flag concerns, and collaborate with others to implement solutions.

Mentor-lead mentor-leaders who will in turn look for opportunities to support and develop others. This will become your organizational culture and will not only benefit your people but also you and your organization.

6. Submit to Their Extreme Ownership

When your people become passionate, proficient, and highly invested stewards, they will question, oppose, and sometimes even make decisions that, although in the organization's best interest, are different from yours.

This is not the time to feel insecure and let your ego rise to "show them who's boss". Don't try to put them in their place or defend the status quo because you built it.

This is the time to jump up with glee and thank God they are taking extreme ownership. When that moment comes, you will realize that you have achieved what few have the courage to even consider doing; you have selflessly emptied yourself to impart vision, values, culture, skills, and power to others who can now share the responsibility to drive results.

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people.”

-Steve Jobs

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