It is not uncommon that employees and executives may have different points of view. Some executives consistently wonder and become frustrated when everyone else doesn’t listen, pay attention, or get things done the same way they would have done something. When this happens, sometimes we lose sight of what an employee is seeing, or a lack of buy-in or an explanation of why.

1) Ownership is not a Character Trait – A misconception is that some people have the “ownership gene” which makes them automatically engage in anything they do. This isn’t true. Some people enter into an organization and engage more than others, but this is because their personal mission happens to align with the company mission… or at least they think it does. Ownership is an output of the environment where a person feels truly aligned, at a very personal level, with what they are doing.

2) People are reasonable – When consulting, I commonly hear owners who are concerned about their employees getting “keys to the kingdom”. They want their people to feel like owners, but they don’t really trust them to make good decisions. The truth is that when people are given the opportunity to truly engage and find focus on something, they come up with reasonable decisions, especially if they are allowed to be responsible for the results. An employee at a fast food place who doesn’t care at all about what they are doing will do amazingly stupid things (we’ve all experienced this at some point). However, if you can find a way to get that same employee truly engaged in their job (by building their competence, autonomy, and relatedness to the position), they will think before they act and start making good decisions.

3) Everyone is a Leader – Everyone has the capacity for leadership. Leadership is simply helping others accomplish something they wouldn’t have accomplished themselves. Leadership, like ownership, is not a character trait. It occurs when a person is empowered in a position that aligns with their strengths and personal mission. Leadership and Ownership are very close cousins.

The concepts represented here are a paradigm shift to the way most people think. As a mind test, think about the last time you felt engaged and passionate about something you were doing. Now think about something you hated doing. What was the difference? I’ll bet it had to do with a combination of competence, autonomy, and relatedness.