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All Hands on Deck: 6 Personal Benefits to Engaging with a Culture of Ownership

In a Culture of Ownership people appreciate
that we’re all in this together!


Most studies of employee engagement show that only between 25-and-30 percent of U.S. employees are truly engaged with their work, with their coworkers, and with their organizations. In his book The Coming Jobs War, Gallup CEO Jim Clifton calls disengaged employees, and especially disengaged managers, a quality defect – just like shipping the wrong product or giving a patient the wrong medication is a quality defect.

It is, of course, in every organization’s best interest to have a more highly engaged team of people on the job. Everything is better when people are engaged: employee morale, customer service, productivity, financial performance all improve when people are engaged with a sense of ownership. Helping our partner clients achieve a more positive workplace culture is a big part of our work at Values Coach, and we’ve created a unique suite of tools and techniques to build a Culture of Ownership where people are emotionally positive, self empowered, and fully engaged – the three essential qualities of such a culture.

But there are significant personal benefits to you as an individual to embracing a Culture of Ownership where you work. Here are six of them.

Benefit #1 – You will be happier and more successful

In a 2010 Harvard Business Review article Edward Hallowell (one of America’s most thoughtful psychiatrists and author of some of the best books on ADD and toxic worry) wrote that being disengaged is “a leading cause of underachievement and depression.”

Benefit #2 – You will be more resilient and stress-resistant

People who see themselves as owners of the organization, as opposed to just renting a job, inevitably have a greater sense of personal control over their circumstances and their reactions to changes in those circumstances. They manage stress more effectively and are less likely to suffer the symptoms of burnout.

Benefit #3 – You will enhance your job security

People who think and act like owners – who see the job description as a floor and not a ceiling – make themselves more valuable to their employers and are thus less likely to lose their jobs. And companies that have a Culture of Ownership are much less likely to resort to cutting jobs in tough times. Southwest Airlines is known for its positive culture, and it was the only major air carrier to not impose layoffs in the aftermath of 9-11. Auto-Owners Insurance Company has never had a layoff in its 100+ year history, including the Great Depression and multiple recessions. Both companies are characterized by people who are willing to go above and beyond the job description when things get tough.

Benefit #4 – You will get ahead in your career

People who are willing to tackle problems, think of creative new solutions and strategies, and who have a “Proceed Until Apprehended” mindset and commitment to taking initiative tend to get ahead more quickly in their careers. They are promoted faster and more likely to have other companies try to lure them away with attractive job offers.

Benefit #5 – You will raise expectations of coworkers and be a better example for your kids

While the most negative and cynical of your coworkers might call you nasty names like brownnoser, overachiever, and quota buster, people who think and act like owners gradually earn the respect of coworkers and help raise the performance bar for their entire department. More important, they become much better role models for their children. The world of work is tough enough as it is. One of the greatest disservices a parent can do to a child is to teach them that a job is an odious burden one undertakes to pay the bills, while one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child is to have an enthusiastic appreciate for the joy of doing a good job and for owning their work. After all, as Kahlil Gibran wrote in his beautiful book The Prophet, work should be love made visible.

Benefit #6 – You will help our country

In The Coming Jobs War, Clifton wrote that if the number of engaged workers in the U.S. would double from 30 to 60 million, the resulting explosion of occupational competence “would change the face of America more than any leadership institution, trillions of stimulus dollars, or any law or policy imaginable.” In other words, one answer to the question of what you can do for your country is to own your work and help promote a Culture of Ownership where you work.

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and have learned a great deal about building a Culture of Ownership from our work with different organizations. These three of my books focus on different aspects of culture-building:

All Hands on Deck: 8 Essential Lessons for Building a Culture of Ownership

The Florence Prescription: From Accountability to Ownership

Building a Culture of Ownership in Healthcare

At Values Coach our purpose is transforming people through the power of values and transforming organizations through the power of people. We do that by helping leaders build a stronger Culture of Ownership on a Foundation of Values. 

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