In my coaching interactions throughout the firm, I am often asked about the concept of fierce ownership. Some seem to grasp the concept intuitively, while others may struggle to come to grips with how to live out this commitment. To me, fierce ownership is showing up every day with uncommon discipline and acting on every action, opportunity or request as though you personally, literally owned your practice group, even as though you owned the firm! It is putting the needs and best interests of your clients, colleagues and the firm before your own.
Fierce ownership is both a mindset and a discipline. If you were the sole proprietor of HORNE and every move affected your personal bottom line and the livelihood of your family, would you leave a problem for someone else to find and clean up? Would you miss an important client deadline? Would you stay in a 5-star hotel when a Hampton Inn would do? I think not!
Leading management consultant Hyler Bracey and his associates developed a concept called 100% Responsibility that could be a key to unlock your full potential to demonstrate fierce ownership. Think about what our tendencies are when something we are working on or toward does not turn out the way we expected it to. We can easily default to developing an excuse. “We didn’t hit our profit plan this year, but the economy turned south throughout our market.” In our minds, it as though we are balancing the equation by adding a reason, an excuse, to not achieving the desired outcome.
DESIRED RESULT = NOT DESIRED RESULT + EXCUSE
Clearly, that equation does not balance. These reasons or excuses come in two flavors — blaming and justifying. And those two things are among the greatest wastes of human time and energy. This CYA (cover your posterior) behavior runs rampant in the business world.
Blaming looks like, “we missed the client deadline because we had too many first-year associates on the project.” Justifying is assigning the failure to something outside of our control or influence as in the example above referencing the weak economy for not making profit plan. Not only does this behavior not contribute to achieving the desired outcome, it actually shuts down productivity by limiting creative options. Blaming and justifying are disabling behaviors that keep us from looking at what we can do to change things. It has the unintended effect of limiting options and stifling creativity.
The 100% Responsibility mindset is the way to free yourself of useless blaming and justifying and stay in the game exhibiting fierce ownership to get the desired result. Most of us think about responsibility on our work teams, and even in our friendships and intimate relationships as shared. That is not invalid, but if you think of the responsibility for the strength of your marriage as being 50/50, which side of the 50/50 equation are you likely to focus on when things get rocky? This elegantly simple notion that you are 100% responsible for the results you create actually expands your creativity and options and keeps you in the game.
By looking at results as if you are 100% responsible and others are 0% responsible, you become empowered rather than dependent on other people and events you do not control. Imagine how refreshing it would be for all employees to examine what they did and what they could do rather than expending energy to get off the hook. The greatest value of the 100% concept is that it focuses our energy on creating desired outcomes.
At this point, you may be thinking, “this sounds good, but too many things are simply beyond my control.” Certainly, this is true, but if you can act 100% responsible knowing that you cannot control events, and yet know that you can control your response to them, you will develop persistence, resilience and you will display fierce ownership.