Battle Of The O’s…Ownership and Objectivity

A Critical Doer understands following


One of the paradoxes of leadership is understanding how to follow, particularly when it comes to subordinate members of your organization.  One of the most common places where we see this cause problems is in the generation of ideas where ownership and objectivity can be at odds.  In short…ownership and objectivity are inversely proportional.

The theory behind this is simple…as humans, we tend to like our own ideas better than the ideas of others.  If you are in a position of leadership and the catalyst of ideas, you could inadvertently be stifling the creativity of an entire organization.

As an owner, it’s a natural tendency to defend ideas in which you are personally invested.  When your organization is doing exactly what you’ve likely asked it to do…take initiative and generate ideas that can give you a competitive edge…but by default you go into competition with them over an idea you have compromised yourself in the critical role of objective decider.

To create an environment where people are a wellspring of ideas and the leader maintains objectivity in deciding on which idea is best, here are some things to consider:

  1. Leaders should focus on vision rather than ideas. Vision targets identity and focus of an organization…ideas address “how” to bring a vision to life.  If leaders are forward looking and effectively communicate a vision for the future, people will generally come up with lots of ideas on how to make it happen.
  2. Leaders should focus on options. There are many ways to do this.  You can ask for options that accomplish an objective over different periods of time, different levels of investment, degrees of latitude to restructure an organization, etc.  The point is that in asking for types of ideas, it lets others take ownership and become personally invested while the decider maintains objectivity.
  3. Leaders should focus on analysis. While the organization is energetically developing ideas, the leader should be working on the criteria for analyzing those ideas and determining which is best.  Active listening, asking the right questions, and open communication are key to guiding the development of ideas without becoming personally invested.

Your challenge is reflect on a situation at home or work where you can improve performance by understanding how following is an important leadership skill that empowers people to have game-changing ideas and preserves your objectivity to choose the best one.  If you’re in charge, remember this…you were hired to lead the organization, not be the smartest person in the organization.  Preserve your objectivity, let your people own the ideas, and your organization will consistently outperform the competition while retaining top-shelf talent.  It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


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Updated: October 10, 2015 — 11:07 pm

1 Comment

  1. Great truths here! Is amazing how successful we can become by asking subordinates or colleagues what they think about an issue or problem before we proselytize our own. Once we become confirmed in the tenet that we are not required to have all the answers, the door becomes open to a world of possible positive outcomes.

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