Recently, I heard this comment on a talk show – “One does NOT wash a car rental.” The discussion went on to explain that a person doesn’t wash a rental because they don’t OWN the car. Pretty simple concept and oh so true.
With a car rental, we obey the rules, return the car without scratches and dents, fill the gas tank or pay for it, but we don’t wash the car or clean the interior, that’s the “real” owner’s job – the rental company.
Employees often take the same approach. The partially interested, partially engaged employee will be sure to follow the rules, work within the parameters of the job, stay within the confines of the budget, keep their nose clean and generally return the job at the end of the day to the owner without “washing.” Sure, they met requirements of the job, but did they take the time to examine, review, evaluate results and readjust plans for improvement the next time?
As much as leaders, executives and entrepreneurs want a team that takes pride and owns their responsibility, the reality is all too many leaders actually allow their employees to be renters, to just be mediocre. What if the leader found ways to build ownership?
First, let’s review some leadership behaviors that support “renting.”
· Fixing. A wise man once wrote – “People’s destiny is not really in your hands. In the final analysis, every man’s destiny is in his own hands.” Norman Vincent Peale. Leaders all too often what to “fix” people. The mistake in this approach is that people don’t need fixing. They need to be inspired. When, we try to help others overcome their flaws, their shortcomings, their inadequacies they often wait for us to give them the solution. This only enables them not to learn, to not grow, and to contribute only marginally. You tell us what company can afford to invest time in repairing others’ work.
· Let it slide. Richard Yates, author of Revolutionary Road, wrote, “It’s a disease. Nobody thinks or feels or cares any more; nobody gets excited or believes in anything except their own comfortable little God damn mediocrity.” Being easy going, giving and nurturing is NOT the role of the leader. Being a leader is tough. We have to step up to the plate and OWN our responsibilities. People may want to sit and be comfortable, but what they need is to have some adversity and challenges to overcome. Quality products and services don’t get made or delivered by average workers. When leaders overlook behaviors that support passing the buck, blaming , hiding under the radar, or just plain – not doing their job – they sabotage any hope for success.
· Seeking consensus. I love this quote by Margaret Thatcher – “To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and no one objects.” There are many problems with always trying to build consensus. Problems such as wasting time, losing focus, or trying to be popular, not productive.If leaders want to build strong teams, they have to be willing to set the target and allow people to step up, act as team and get results. The more we attempt to coddle and cajole employees, partners and other stakeholders, the further we get from achieving truly extraordinary results.
· Telling People YOUR Vision. “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking” George Patton The average, mediocre team can spout off the “canned” vision statement. Leaders often mistake people’s ability to state the company’s vision statement for understanding, buy in and appreciation of the big picture. This generally is furthest from the truth. When people don’t have to think, they generally have not made an emotional connection to the lofty idea and ideals of the company. They do what they are told and nothing more.
Rather than fixing, letting it slide, seeking consensus and telling your vision, leaders can build ownership in many ways. For 720thinkers one of the outstanding actions to promotes ownership is to inspire people. Again, I would like to share another quote by Dr. Peale – “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”
The strongest leaders engage their employees by helping them to discover their motivations and belief in their own capabilities. As a results, individual motivators will help align goals and actions with a vision that is so compelling, so addictive that they wouldn’t think of returning their job at the end of the day with a thorough cleaning because they own their job.
Promoting ownership is one of the leader’s primary roles. Are you the leader that promotes employees “renting” and not owning their jobs? If so, now is the time to consider the ways that you can lead people to own not just rent their job.