Ownership, responsibility, culpability... and progress.

I once knew a leader who was enthusiastic about ensuring every goal (objective or project) had an owner and his thinking was simple — if there was no owner how could you expect anything to get done, and in the same vein, there could only be one. For him, if you had more than one owner, there was no true accountability (which in his mind was more or less like not having an owner at all). 


It didn't take me long to jump on his ownership bandwagon because it's really the only way to get anything done.

And now for the rub that comes with this progressive thinking — since most things don't happen without a team of people, how do you reconcile this with the need for one owner?

You definitely need to ensure you have the right people on the team, a solid time and event schedule, the needed resources, sacrosanct operating mechanisms to ensure action is moving forward, and a solid "multi-coloured" dashboard to ensure everyone knows what's happening — all of this is solid, quantifiable, and necessary, but the reconciliation with "one and the many" comes with the words "responsibility" and "culpability", and even more subtly, the words "you" and "we"

re·spon·si·bil·i·ty [rəˌspänsəˈbilədē] NOUN — the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone

cul·pa·bil·i·ty [ˌkəlpəˈbilədē] NOUN — responsibility for a fault or wrong; blame

you [yo͞o, yə] PRONOUN — used to refer to the person or people that the speaker is addressing

we [wē] PRONOUN — used by a speaker to refer to himself or herself and one or more other people considered together:

Anything you are involved with inherently needs responsibility and culpability, and if it's just you it's easy because you own all of it — and if there is more that just you then these words need to be injected into the group. Ownership is about "you" accepting responsibility and culpability for the goal (objective or project), and if there is a team behind you then that involves expanding the definition of responsibility and culpability to include everyone involved (something imperative for success) — the "you" becomes "we".

If you ever hear yourself trying to avoid "responsibility" or "culpability" then you are falling short as the owner — and if you ever hear anyone on the team trying to avoid "responsibility" or "culpability" you are also falling short, because remember, you own that too. 

Ownership and Leadership... semantics if you ask me, because its true when they say, "True leadership has no title".