In addition to reinforcing the right behaviors, you’ll also need to ENCOURAGE OWNERSHIP if you want your employees to do superior work. The Romans learned that 2000 years ago. After building an arch, they would have the lead engineer stand beneath it as they removed the scaffolding. If the arch didn’t hold, the engineer was the first to know.
Likewise, effective leaders let their employees have ownership for their situations. After all, if you continue to run in and lift the weight off your staff’s shoulders, they’re never going to build any muscle of their own.
If you behave like the “hero” manager or leader, you may end up with more problems in the long run. Every time you rescue your employee or pull a symbolic rabbit out of their business hat, you generate more dependency in your employees.
Astute managers and leaders, on the other hand, encourage ownership. They listen as employees discuss problems and solutions, but they don’t let the employees dump those problems in their offices. As one of the chief engineers at United Technologies wrote, “Remember, at no time during your discussion will your problem become mine. If that happens, then you don’t have a problem, and I can’t help anyone who doesn’t have a problem.”
Of course, you may have some employees who resist ownership. They may whine that they can’t do it or it’s too hard. But don’t despair.
Most people have vast reserves of untapped talent. Just look at teenagers. Teenagers who can’t seem to figure out how to run a vacuum cleaner or lawnmower can learn to drive a car in an amazingly short amount of time. It just takes the right kind of leadership strategies to pull the talent out of people.