Posted By Ted Baumhauer
Looking through the book Teach Your Team to Fish by Laurie Beth Jones I was struck by her discussion of the differences between stewardship and ownership. She’s right! Leaders trying to get their teams to own their work are setting up behaviors that they don’t want. Owners have the view that this is mine. When I have that view then I can do with “it” what I want. I can love it, hate it, improve it, or even ruin it. It’s mine. I am accountable to me. 
But stewardship implies that we don’t own “it” we are just taking care of “it” temporarily. That creates a whole different attitude, doesn’t it? Now I am responsible to those who follow me. I now know that I will some day pass this “it” off to someone else for safe keeping. That makes me accountable to someone else. I don’t want to turn over my job, my responsibilities, to someone else in bad shape. That would make me look bad and point out that I haven’t been doing a very good job.
What a difference that little change in words can have on our attitude. There has been a lot of talk about getting employees to take ownership of their work. I know I have said that in my training classes. That will change. Stewardship of their work is what we want our fellow workers to have and that change will lead to better teamwork and outcomes.
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Ted Baumhauer


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