Sunday, January 17, 2021
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Take Ownership

by Judy Ryan

“The educator must believe in the potential power of his pupil, and he must employ all his art in seeking to bring his pupil to experience this power.”
-Alfred Adler, Psychologist

Task ownership is when a person is accountable to recognize and adopt responsibility for all tasks related to living a productive, fulfilling life and engaging in meaningful work designed to contribute positive outcomes. In addition to life and work skills, our tasks also include management of relationships, productivity, engagement, purpose, motivation, values and a vision for how to express social interest within the community. Social interest is the use of initiative to cause positive consequences to ourselves and others. Without social interest, we fall into the trap of chasing self-interest alone, which fails to meet our needs for connection and contribution, two feelings needed for high functioning. An obvious example of low social interest is the attractive, talented and accomplished celebrity who seeks self-fulfillment alone, then falls into despair at its empty promises and commits suicide.
I happened upon an article today about all the activities a teen should be able to do alone by age thirteen and was reminded of how often I see people owning tasks that belong to others while forgetting to check on their own. When this happens in a workplace, I ask, “Whose yard are you working in right now?” Learning how to create human systems that amp up personal responsibility and promote the transfer of it to those for whom it belongs, requires a transformation in thinking and behaving. People must overcome confusion about task ownership and commit to transfer responsibility as the primary accountability goal. This is not easy because most of us would rather dominate others than hand-off tasks because control models are still widely supported, keeping us stuck.

How does task ownership impact the effectiveness and profitability of your business? When a person’s power is acknowledged, celebrated, guided wisely, and supported by standardized professional behaviors and group dynamics that applaud power and the right use of it in service, your people become like plants with the perfect amounts of sunlight and water. They expand into their greatest human potentials and everyone benefits. The ideal conditions and conversations needed to support task ownership also promote a healthy sense of belonging and significance, where mutual respect and excellence become the norm. They dissolve what would otherwise be struggles and all-too-common challenges of disengagement, conflict, shame and inferiority spirals that cost big. Task ownership is the antidote to mediocrity, self-centeredness, fear and stress.

Task ownership is accountability and is only possible when responsibilities are effectively transferred from those who believe in the goodness of people, to the people they lead. This requires a climate of psychological safety. Many people have not felt this safety because they have not been validated for their power nor guided in the appropriate use of it. Rather, they’ve been judged, shamed, punished, neglected and bulldozed when expressing it, even from earliest days (e.g. the “terrible” two’s). As a result, many people do not recognize nor know how to trust, use, and extend their power in service. Task ownership, and the conditions that promote it, comprise the basis of excellent customer service, teamwork, innovation and evolvement and yet it is just now growing in popularity.

When we recognize and validate the beauty and potential in people and revere, protect and guide their power, we create other leaders. When we guide them to own their tasks, they create the very solutions needed in our world today. Isn’t that what you want in your workplace? In your community and home? Ask me how we do this. I’d love to discuss it with you and to know how you and your business are doing.

Judy Ryan (, human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Join her in her mission to create a world in which all people love their lives. She can also be reached at 314-239-4727.
People hire LifeWork Systems because we help businesses become agile and manage their priority system: their human system. I hope this article helps you make sense of what’s most crucial to your evolving organization!

Submitted 1 years 241 days ago
Categories: categoryThe Extraordinary Workplace
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