How to Take Ownership of Your Job

Take hold of your job with passion and commitment

Businesswoman displaying excitement for an outcome
••• GettyImages/DanDalton

Every job you do, from the simplest of management tasks to leading and guiding the most complex projects, is a direct reflection of you as a professional. In a world where your economic security is a function of your skills, knowledge, and reputation, it is essential for you to take ownership of your work and ensure that it reflects positively on you as a professional. 

Cultivate Passion for Your Work

One way to firmly establish your reputation with your team members and co-workers is to display a genuine passion for your work. As humans, we take our cues from others, often mimicking their emotions and attitudes. If you have ever worked around or for someone who is enthusiastic about their job you know that their passion is infectious. No job is too small or too difficult, and time spent working with those who are genuinely enthusiastic seems to fly by at amazing speeds. 

Contrast this positive experience with the alternative of working for someone who is somewhat ambivalent or negative about their work. Work takes on a sense of drudgery and time slows to a crawl with these sour or disengaged individuals.

There is little doubt which of these leaders most of us prefer to work for. Likewise, it's clear that you are much better off being known as someone enthusiastic and committed to their work. Every project, meeting, or task is an opportunity to showcase your enthusiasm. This is true regardless of your position in a company, but it's especially true if you're a leader or manager.

Owning Your Role as a Manager

While we often compare and contrast leadership and management as two different roles, they are part and parcel of the same position. Whether in leadership, management, or both, there are several ways to display your ownership. Let's look at each in turn.

  • Recognize that the work of management is noble: As a manager, you have a unique opportunity to create value for your firm, your team, and for yourself by pursuing your activities with the passion described above and by exhibiting the commitment necessary to move your organization closer to achieving key objectives. As a manager, you engage team members, colleagues and customers, and you are engaged in a great many process activities.
  • Run efficient, purposeful meetings: Learn to lead with an agenda; focus on the task at hand and ensure that all ideas are heard and considered in a respectful manner. Be efficient with time usage. Strive to start on time and end early. Avoid managing these events by using them to simply plan more meetings. 
  • Ensure the clarity of your team's and organization's objectives: People do their best work when they have context for how their efforts fit into the bigger picture. Make certain to reinforce key goals and highlight results on a regular basis. 
  • View process problems as opportunities to improve: Much of our daily work revolves around ensuring follow-through on key processes. Great managers look and listen for opportunities to simplify complex or inefficient processes and improve quality and service delivery. Your team members will appreciate your efforts for continuous improvement. 
  • Focus on delivering remarkable experiences to your customers: It doesn't matter whether you are serving customers in the marketplace or internal customers in another department. Strive to deliver remarkable service at every opportunity. Your reputation for creating these "Wow" experiences will serve you and your team well. 

Great managers focus on results and try to create great experiences for employees, co-workers, and customers. They simplify complex tasks, ensure that the right measures are in place to gauge progress and ensure accountability, and they recognize their ability to teach others how to do the same. Carry this type of attitude through your daily work as a manager, and your reputation for owning your job will grow at every encounter. 

Owning Your Role as a Leader

There are few activities in your professional life where you have a greater opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, than serving in the role of a leader. The role of a leader by definition is focused on guiding others safely and securely to a particular destination. During the journey, you have an opportunity to teach, support the learning and development of your team members, and help individuals navigate the challenges of life and career. Here are some great opportunities to show that you own your role as a leader:

  • Embrace your role: Ask and answer, "At the end of our time working together, what will my team members say that I did for them?" Strive to define a mission statement for your role and share your mission widely. Great leaders constantly remind themselves of their purpose and strive to align their daily activities with this purpose. 
  • Succeed one encounter at a time: Instead of looking for the magic formula for success as a leader, recognize that every day offers a series of great opportunities to make a positive impact on those around you. Focus on succeeding at each of these opportunities. Remember that exhibiting respect for others, even in challenging circumstances, is your admission ticket to leading effectively. 
  • Teach: Great leaders teach. The role is less about telling and much more about supporting the development of key skills and practices. From helping your team members improve as decision-makers to identifying and supporting emerging leaders on your team, you are in a unique position to serve as an educator. 
  • Stand for something: Great leaders are values-driven. They identify with, share, live, and lead by core values, whether they are the firm's or their own. 

Decide to Take Ownership

You spend a tremendous amount of your life at work. You have the choice to invest yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually in your daily activities, or to approach them transactionally. The win in terms of satisfaction, enjoyment, and success goes to those who make the conscious decision to own their jobs.