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Ownership mindset: unraveling the abstraction

There are notions - part of the corporate jargon that are likely to sound somewhat abstract, sort of vague hence not practical. And ownership mindset is often said to fall into this category. Yet, it is something that most leaders dream to experience in their interactions with those around them. Therefore, let us make an attempt to unravel the abstraction. 

Interestingly enough, in organizations we don’t need a definition for the complainers’, blamers’ (haters’) and visitors’ mindset and/or state. We can relate to these almost immediately as we experience them rather often.

Short detour

In reality, leaders are not keen on definitions. They are interested in the “how to” – the approaches, methods, techniques, that they can use to transform the draining mindsets/states into resourceful ones. And a word for this other - more resourceful way of thinking and feeling can be “ownership”.

Back to defining the ownership mindset

Our mindset is a matter of what we pay attention to and how we think and feel about ourselves in a specific context.

Some people are primarily focused on the past and the problems that stem from the past and persist today. They embrace a negative view of what is now. Others are focused on the present or the future while being hopeful about what can be created and experienced from this point onwards.

Additionally, we all bring certain energy and this energy is expressed in how we act. Some have low energy and they can be seen as passive and others have high energy, so they are perceived as active.

Let us look into four types of presence in a team: complainers, blamers, visitors and creators

The complainers are focused on the negative and typically have low energy. They experience themselves as victims of the circumstances. They often believe the situation is hopeless and they are helpless, which explains why then tend to be passive.

The blamers focus on the negative, but they have high energy that is fueled by their anger. Thus, they appear active - not pro-active, just active.

There is also this third group of individuals who have “high-potential” of becoming complainers. They are percieved as well-meaning, agreeable (positive) people who “don’t mind it”. They “don’t disagree with what is being proposed” and if one gives them clear directions and navigates them “though the corridors” of what they do, they will make steps and get things done. But just that – no proactiveness in the picture whatsoever. I call them visitors. And they feel as such. A manager once told me that he had a visitor on his team and he was convinced that this person enjoyed coming to work because of the walk to the office and the coffee machine (apparently it made a killer drink).

Clearly, no manager would enjoy having people on their team who would pertain to any of these three categories. Typically, we want individuals who are active/pro-active and optimistic, hopeful, and future-focused. They will abstain from fault-finding (as it’s past and negative-oriented) and will instead take responsibility. They will think about what they possess now that will enable them to create what they want to experience in the future.

Meet the creators with ownership mindset

I don’t want to build an image of this category as delusional individuals who deny their negative experience and are blind for the risks and the challenges. They are aware however, they have mastered the skill to re-direct their focus to what is available and wanted and to streamline their resources and make use of the existing opportunities (regardless of how limited these might be) to create the desired future.

They own their thinking and feelings and while acknowledging them, they opt to focus on what is within their control. They choose to act and channel their energy into creating better circumstances or desired results – business results, alliances, conditions in the environment, etc.

The reality is that whether we are perceived as complainers, blamers, visitors or creators is a matter of our state here and now.

Our state is very much a product of what we choose to focus on and how we choose to interpret things. Our state is a result of the mindset (a.k.a. mental framework) we choose to embrace. And our choice is depended on numerous factors amongst which– our energy level and the intensity of the external pressure. Therefore, the logical conclusion is that we actually move across these four categories – we are rarely only one type.  

Building the muscles to nurture our energy, maintain future focus, re-ignite our inner drive, flex our thinking and choose empowering relationships can help us spend most of our time in the creators (owners) domain.

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