185. Ownership Mindset

About this Podcast

Ep. 185 – Mark Pincus, the founder of Zynga, once said that leaders should “make everyone the CEO of something.”

But that’s easier said than done. So how do you go about cultivating an ownership mindset, not only for yourself, but all of your direct reports as well? I mean, is it even possible to affect how other people view their ownership of something?

In this week’s episode, I wanted to highlight the importance of having an ownership mindset in leadership and explore some of the common challenges and negative consequences of a low ownership mindset within teams.

If you’ve ever wanted tips on how to boost your team members’ autonomy and accountability to foster a more creative and independent work environment then this episode is for you!

Or watch it on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/IJtFSLmVl7Y

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Episode 185 Transcript:

Ramona Shaw [00:00:00]:

This is episode 185 on the topic of cultivating an ownership mindset.

Ramona Shaw [00:00:12]:

Here’s the question. How do you successfully transition into your 1st official leadership role, Build the confidence and competence to lead your team successfully and establish yourself as a respected and trusted leader across the organization. That’s the question, and this show provides the answers. Welcome to The Manager Track podcast. I’m your host, Ramona Shaw, and I’m on a mission to create workplaces where work is not as a source of stress and dread, but as a source of contribution, connection, and fulfillment. And this transition starts with developing new generation of leaders who know how to lead so everyone wins and grows. In the show, you’ll learn how to think, communicate, and ask Ask the confident and competent leader you know you can be.

Ramona Shaw [00:00:56]:

Welcome. Welcome to yet another episode of The Manager Track podcast. We are at number 185. The 200th episode is coming up soon soon. So I’m excited about this. I remember episode 100, which if you haven’t listened to that, I highly recommend it. It is a conversation with a few of my clients in inside the leadership accelerator program, our 12 week new manager training. Very interesting, insightful conversation.

Ramona Shaw [00:01:24]:

I loved it and was thrilled to make that episode 100. If you are A new manager or supporting new managers, then check that out. I think what you hear from them and what they experienced during those early months or years will greatly benefit you. But with that said, let’s dive into this week’s topic. This is on the ownership mindset. And gosh, there’ve been a number of different instances over the last couple of weeks where I had to think about Who is owning what here? It had to do with me personally and what I’m I owning. It had to do with people that I work with and what They’re owning to get really clear on, are we actually thinking about this the right way? And am I fully Owning my part. And am I letting other people fully own their part? So when it comes to leadership and leading a team, thinking about ownership is important.

Ramona Shaw [00:02:24]:

And so I hope that the next 20 minutes or so as we’re talking about this, this is a 20 minutes that you think about ownership on your team, or at work for you, And that hopefully, it will spark you to some new ideas or some new insights on how you think about ownership and how you cultivate it. Or it might also validate you that what you’re doing is the right approach. And by the way, that second part, even though You’re not walking away with any new information. Oftentimes, that sense of validation can do wonders in how you execute those things And how confidently you feel about yourself and that specific behavior or task at hand. So here are some of the phrases That remind me of the topic of ownership. And you might have heard this before or might have even said those things too. 1st, I always need to check-in to make sure things are being done and taken care of. Second example.

Ramona Shaw [00:03:24]:

I really only know it gets done the way that I it needs to be done when I personally do it. Other example. I feel like I have to constantly babysit or check-in on people’s work. 4th, I need to constantly be reminding people of deadlines because otherwise it won’t happen. Those statements, although they may or may not be factually True, or let’s assume they are factually true. They surface an issue with the ownership mindset on the team or the lack thereof. What happens very often in teams where there is a lack of that ownership mindset that isn’t being cultivated strongly enough. Oftentimes the leader, the manager of the team will run into a time management issue.

Ramona Shaw [00:04:13]:

They start becoming the bottleneck. They start to feel worn out Or they are never able to level up because they’re constantly putting out fires, helping everyone else do their work. They’re getting involved in the weeds of things and don’t have time to address the big picture thinking when it comes to Envisioning what the future of the team looks like in the next year or 2, it’s a struggle to make the time for this, and it’s only done when prompted from above, but never done proactively by the leader themselves because they simply don’t have the time or the mental capacity to do so. That’s most often the consequence of a low ownership mindset on a team. It’s also by the way, as a, As a consequence, although not often directly raised to me as an issue is that when there isn’t a strong sense of ownership on the team, then The team members won’t grow as much. So they’re capping their growth and they stagnate. So if you notice a bit of a pattern where there are team members who’ve been with the company or in your team specifically for months, 5 months, 6 months, maybe a year. And you notice, like, still dealing with the same issues or the same questions Over and over, I don’t really see them growing much.

Ramona Shaw [00:05:35]:

We’re kind of stagnating. There’s a high chance that there’s a, There’s an ownership issue and they rely on you way too much to be a safety net. So they rely on you to jump in, To fix it, to have the answers, to make decisions. And they never really feel like they need to own it themselves because they know They’ll ask you and you’ll provide it for them. And you know what we all like to do? Mitigate risks. So if I can choose Either decide something on my own without checking in with the boss, or I could check with the boss, Make sure that my boss gives me the thumbs up and also answers all my questions. Then I feel way better about what I’m doing, Possibly. Right? Or make more secure about what I’m doing, even if it’s not the way that I would have gone.

Ramona Shaw [00:06:26]:

At least it feels secure. And so we’ll might choose that secure path or over the risky path. Because risky path, even if it’s more fulfilling at the end of the day, Can feel uncomfortable, and you know that our brains don’t like discomfort. And as human beings, we’re trying to avoid That is comfort and really your ability to be successful and to overcome challenges and be resilient is highly dependent on your ability to deal with and tolerates discomfort. Now you may relate to the scenario where I said people may naturally gravitate To risk mitigate and ask you for direction or answers or decisions versus going off and doing things on their own if you are Always available to them. And that may seem very accurate and make sense to you, or you personally think, No. I would love to take more ownership, but my boss doesn’t let me. My boss constantly asks me to involve them to in to be part of the decision, And I wish so much that I could make my own decisions.

Ramona Shaw [00:07:35]:

So this, lack of ownership mindset could be fueled by Either the team member not wanting to take it or the manager not giving it enough. And then that low ownership mindset starts to Settle in and drive the team dynamics. So we talked a little bit about the scenarios and how the locking or a low ownership mindset Mindset shows up. As a caring and driven manager, I know you want to strengthen your leadership skills, advance your career, and lead a high performing engaged team. And in order to do that, as a leader, you need to lead with a system, not by shooting from your hips or reacting to everyone else around you. To do so, you need to, first, learn what should go into a leadership system And 2nd, develop your own. Now the good news is that I teach you one must have part in your leadership system in a concise, Actionable and yet comprehensive course focused on running successful 1 on 1 meetings with your diaract reports. It includes over 67 minutes of tactical leadership training plus a set of resources to make this as easy and immediately applicable for you as possible.

Ramona Shaw [00:08:50]:

You can either watch the video lessons or listen to it through a private podcast feed on your phone. You can get your hands on this course, which I want every single manager to have, For a nominal $19@ramonashaw.com/oneone. That’s 2 times the number one. You can check the show notes for the details or head on over to ramonashaw.com/oneone to get started right now. Let me pause here for a second though, and make sure that you and I are on the same page of what an ownership mindset actually means. So I gave you examples. I gave you some reasons of why it might show up. When, with that in mind, when we don’t Really cultivate an ownership mindset.

Ramona Shaw [00:09:39]:

Us, personally, let’s start there. We want to rely on other people to make decisions for us, to guide us and or to take responsibility for the work that we do. When we’re not allowing a sense of ownership on the team, we ask the leader, wanna take more Control and more ownership of work than what is appropriate. So especially if there’s a lack of trust Between manager and employee, it’s a high tendency for a manager to use to want to be in control, more so, lean into it more, Help out more to make sure that nothing goes wrong. And most importantly, to make sure that they don’t look back in front of their senior leaders. Or just for their own sake, because they have high may have may have high expectations. You may have high expectations. And you don’t want to feel like someone else is messing that up so that you then feel embarrassed or dissatisfied with the result.

Ramona Shaw [00:10:44]:

To avoid that scenario, again, that potential feeling of discomfort, We’re doing everything we can now to control or aim to control the outcome. And taking on more Ownership ourselves, then what is appropriate can be a mechanism, a tool to Control the outcome. Right? When we’re allowing everyone to own their work, It doesn’t just mean we’re saying, Hey, I delegate this to you. You go with it. That would not work. Cultivating a strong sense of ownership or that ownership mindset comes with 2 key requirements. One, it requires clear parameters, transparent communication. And 2, it requires psychological safety.

Ramona Shaw [00:11:39]:

So let’s talk about each of them separately. Clear parameters and communication, entails the information that you provide When you assign ownership to someone else, it’s what is expected, what’s the desired outcome of this, What are the responsibilities? What are decisions that they need to make? What are timelines? What is What information or context do you have that you need to pass on? The what information you have on expectations you have. All of these parameters that are necessary for someone to successfully own something needs to be shared. Oftentimes, when we pass on ownership, that’s not a given. It might be in our head and we think everyone knows or it’s obvious Or it’s common sense or they should know, but those assumptions are things that get us into trouble. We have to actually articulate it And do more than we think is necessary. And another way to ensure that you’re doing this part, setting these parameters Clearly is to check-in with them on what their understanding is. So if you pass ownership of a project on or a meeting on to someone else, You may say, listen, for you to be successful with owning this project, here’s some additional information I want to share with you.

Ramona Shaw [00:12:59]:

I wanna share the context with you. I wanna share to which degree I want to be consulted or involved in decision making. I want to share the expectation I have on you and the results that you’re achieving, and how often we should check-in and all of that. Then you close-up by saying, can you quickly summarize what I just shared with you to make sure that we’re on the same page? Or can you document this so we have something in writing to go off on in the future? Make sure they understand. And it’s often not through a one way monologue, but through that conversation. The second part of it is the Psychological safety. What that really means in this particular context is to make it safe for people to ask questions, To, share with you that there’s things that they don’t know yet, or that they feel insecure about And to make it safe for them to fail or to make mistakes along the way. It’s not to say they shouldn’t be hold Accountable.

Ramona Shaw [00:14:02]:

That’s very important. Yes. They should be held accountable. Yes. These all these mistakes or failures should be used as learning Opportunities you need to step in, coach, debrief, discuss, assess, like all of those things in order to to support the employee. But to the outside, you have to have their back. When you delegate ownership on your team And you’re still the one responsible. You have to have their back.

Ramona Shaw [00:14:31]:

You can’t throw them under the bus. You can’t make them look bad. You can’t blame them publicly. You really have to have that 1 on 1 conversation to use to dive into what happened. Use it as a learning opportunity. Like Nelson Mandela said, You either win or you learn. Right? You really dive into that. Make sure that lessons are learned.

Ramona Shaw [00:14:52]:

Then to the outside and especially towards Upper management, you got you gotta have to get their back. And if you’re unable to have their back, then you need to assess to which degree you need to be involved along the way, because it then would mean that you weren’t involved enough. And that’s on you. Right? If you initially say, I only need to be updated once a month. You didn’t specify any additional details and the team member updated you once a month and then something goes sideways. Maybe the degree of your involvement wasn’t right and you own that. Or the resources provided or the support provided wasn’t sufficient. So that’s how you create a safe space for people to want to take ownership, to be ready to take to take it.

Ramona Shaw [00:15:35]:

And then for them to grow And continue to want to take more ownership because what they what was challenging a year ago is not going to be challenging now. So they’re able to take on more To fully own it because they know no matter what, you won’t make them look bad. You won’t make them fearful. You won’t intimidate them. You won’t embarrass them. But instead, You dare to support. You want them to look good to everyone else and you got their back. You will take the blame and protect them when things go sideways.

Ramona Shaw [00:16:08]:

So these 2 things are really, really important. And when you’re able to Create that sense of ownership on the team. And oftentimes, for leaders who recognize this as an issue and wanna bring it up, They need to have a conversation upfront for the team to say, I do wanna work on how we own our own responsibilities of projects, And I’m gonna make a few changes on how I’m supporting you and what I’m expecting of you. And then be very transparent and clear, obviously, about about all that. When this changes and when you see there’s an increased sense of ownership on the team and also, right, an increased sense of accountability on the team By the way that you lead, communicate, track commitments, and it support them in a structured and effective way, Then you’ll get to really unlock the potential that lies within ownership. We already talked about growth. What we haven’t yet talked about is motivation. Because when we feel we own something way more motivated to do a good job and to give it our best.

Ramona Shaw [00:17:14]:

In fact, the author, Daniel Pink, wrote a book called Drive. It’s a best selling book, and it talks about What really motivates us? And there are 3 key factors, purpose, mastery, and autonomy that he focuses on. Ownership ties in with autonomy. That sense of, like, I get to choose. I get to own. I get to struggle with it, be challenged today. But then I get to also own the result or really learn from my mistakes because they were mine. When you think of the level of autonomy that your team members have that you have.

Ramona Shaw [00:17:49]:

Ask yourself and also ask your team or think about these responses for your team, on the following 4 questions. One, how much autonomy do you or do they have when it comes to the tasks that they’re completing or doing or taking on? How much autonomy do you or today have when it comes to time? How much autonomy do you or today have related to the technique, the how that you use and apply and how much autonomy today or you have the team, meaning the people that they consult, the people that they work with, the people that they engage with. So I’m going to repeat. Tasks, time, technique, and team. Those are the 4 questions to ask yourself to assess the degree of autonomy on your team. So the more autonomy you provide to your team, the greater that sense of ownership will be, But you have to also cultivate accountability. Autonomy without accountability won’t work in an organizational setting. Provide autonomy, Boost your sense of ownership and ensure that strong pillar of accountability as well.

Ramona Shaw [00:19:01]:

Again, the reason why we’re thinking about this is People will grow and learn significantly more when they have a greater sense of ownership. Your team will be more creative and innovative Because they can think on their own and they can do things that are differently than how they’ve been done or how you would be doing it. So diversity of thought really comes to play there. They’ll also be more motivated and hence likely will demonstrate a strong performance. They’ll work more independently. And as a result of that, you are able to get yourself out of the weeds and be less involved, which then creates the opportunity for you to work more wisely and more strategically. Those are the benefits of a sense of ownership on the team of cultivating that ownership mindset on the team. And hope you really Took in my invitation to think about ownership for you and your work as well as for your team over the course of the last 20 ish minutes or so.

Ramona Shaw [00:20:01]:

If you have questions or if this really resonated with you and you’d like someone to come and speak to your team about the ownership mindset, Please reach out to contact@ramonashaw.com to discuss ways to do so. And with that, we’re gonna wrap this week’s episode. I wish you a great We and I’ll see you next week with another episode of The Manager Track podcast. Ciao ciao.

Ramona Shaw [00:20:25]:

If you enjoyed this episode, then check out 2 other awesome resources to help you

Ramona Shaw [00:20:29]:

become a leader people love to work with.

Ramona Shaw [00:20:32]:

This includes my best selling book, The Confident and Competent New Manager, which you can find on Amazon or at ramona shaw.com/book and a free training on how to successfully lead as a new manager. Can check it out at ramona shaw.com/masterclass. These resources and a couple more, you’ll find in the show notes down below.


1. How do you define an ownership mindset, and why is it important for leaders?

2. How can an ownership mindset lead to increased creativity and innovation within a team?

3. What are the potential benefits for leaders when their team members take ownership and work independently?

4. What are some common signs and statements that indicate a low ownership mindset in a team?

5. Why is psychological safety crucial in cultivating an ownership mindset? How can leaders create a safe space for their team to take ownership?

6. How does a strong sense of ownership contribute to individual growth and development within a team?

7. What are some specific steps you could take to cultivate a stronger sense of ownership on your team?


  • Daniel Pink’s book, “Drive”
  • Learn how to turn your 1-on-1 meetings from time wasters, awkward moments, status updates, or non-existent into your most important and valuable meeting with your directs all week. Access the course and resources here: ramonashaw.com/11
  • Have a question or topic you’d like Ramona to address on a future episode? Fill out this form to submit it for her review: https://ramonashaw.com/ama



Grab your copy of Ramona’s best-selling book ‘The Confident & Competent New Manager: How to Rapidly Rise to Success in Your First Leadership Role’: amzn.to/3TuOdcP

If this episode inspired you in some way, take a screenshot of you listening on your device and post it to your Instagram Stories, and tag me @ramona.shaw.leadership or DM me on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/ramona-shaw

Are you in your first manager role and don’t want to mess it up? Watch our FREE Masterclass and discover the 4 shifts to become a leader people love to work for: ramonashaw.com/masterclass

Don’t forget to invest time each week to increase your self-awareness, celebrate your wins, and learn from your mistakes. Your career grows only to the extent that you grow. Grab your Career Journal with leadership exercises and weekly reflections here: ramonashaw.com/shop

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