How To Create A Culture of Ownership

Evan Doyle

Have you ever felt that your team is not taking ownership?  That people are just punching in and out?  Like everyone is only out for themselves?

You’re not alone. Creating a culture where team members are actively taking ownership is crucial to a creative and collaborative work environment.

As a pastor, I’ve met a lot of talented people with much to offer.  Unfortunately, despite many volunteer opportunities, a large number of them slipped through the cracks.  Why?  I failed to share ownership with them.

In the last few years, it’s been increasingly difficult for employers and team leaders to effectively achieve “buy in” from the gifted people they interact with.  We now live in a crowded, noisy world where our attention is pulled in a multitude of different directions.

Without a clear and precise invitation to own your cause or mission—your reason for why you do what you do—countless numbers of talented people will continue to give their time and energy to everything but what you’re doing.  

Having an outstanding product, an amazing service, or a gripping cause is no longer enough.

This Is True Now More Than Ever Before

For two reasons:

  1. People want to be a part of something important.  Let’s be honest, some necessary responsibilities do not always feel world-changing to employees and team members.
  2. People are more distracted today than ever before.  Social media, sports, school plays, hobbies, podcasts, vacations, apps, blogs, and of course, the news.

It can be overwhelming.  How will you ever get your team assuming responsibility and taking ownership of the organization?

You Need To Foster A Ownership Mentality

Back in the day, work meant make your widgets and meet your quota.

Today, it’s easier to engage in meaningful activity.  Everyone can have a voice through social media.  Access to information is at our fingertips.

Therefore, you need to clearly communicate why your cause matters.  Your invitation to join the team needs be crystal clear by clarifying exactly what you are calling them to! In other words, your team taking ownership is dependent upon your ability to communicate what you believe is important and why it is

Simon Sinek puts it this way,

“People do not buy what you do, but why you do it.”

You must transfer what is in your heart into your team.

There Are Three Benefits To Creating A Culture Of Ownership

Consider the difference between an employee/volunteer and an owner:

A volunteer says…  I’ll do what I want, when I want.

Owners says, I’ll do whatever needs to be done, whenever it needs to be done.


1. Owners Take Responsibility. (Luke 10:2, Romans 12:4-8, Matt. 25:14-30)

An owner is responsible to share the vision and to follow through.


2. Owners Are Invested. (Matt. 6:19-20, 2 Cor. 8:1-7)

Because an owner is invested they use their time wisely.  Owners also share their talents and resources freely for the good of the organization.


3. Owners Are Rewarded. (Luke 14:12-14, Matt. 25:34-40, 1 Cor. 3:8, 2 John 8)

Owners reap the fruit of their labor.  It’s satisfying to receive the benefits of a job well done.


What could happen if more people on your team began taking ownership of what took place in and through the organization?

If people on your team began to give more what would be possible?  Imagine if there was a shared ability to depend on each other?

Experiencing your team taking ownership begins with the way you, as the leader, models it.

Below are five things that a leader must do before their team will begin taking ownership.


1. Be A Servant.

Sure, you could manage or drive, but that’s not leading, it’s enforcing.

Leadership is modeling a belief in a way that influences others to want to model it too.

Jesus led by serving.

Matthew 20:28 (NIV)

…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Do others feel empowered to lead because of how you are modeling servanthood?


2. Promote Unity.

Place value on building connection with those you serve with.

Evaluate how people feel after spending time with you.  Avoid the danger of viewing people as a resource or a problem.  Encourage reciprocity, relationships should be mutually edifying.

Speak well of those you work with and have a no tolerance policy toward gossip.


3. Replace Yourself.

If for whatever reason you could no longer lead, is there someone you’ve intentionally invested into who could replace you?

Begin identifying ways to share responsibility with others.  Let a trusted leader begin to feel a little more weight by inviting them to help carry more of the load.  

As leaders, our goal is to build other leaders.  Change your perspective about who dream you are building.  Instead of always asking, “How can people help me build my dream?”…  Ask, “How can I build people to help them dream?”


4. Live With Integrity.

Take care to facilitate your own growth and maturity.

Practice what you preach.


5. Remain Open To Change.

Be fully committed to your beliefs but be totally open to the strategies changing and adjusting.  Keep an open mind.

As the leader, you must model these principles first. Your team will respond according to your level of ownership.

If you’re serious about leading your team toward servant hood, creativity, and accomplishing the goal, you must create a culture of ownership.

Evan Doyle is a campus pastor in Southeast Indiana.  He also blogs at to help other leaders strengthen their ministry, avoid frustration and grow their church.

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