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Tech and Innovation

The 4 levels of ownership essential to your professional identity

Ella Zhang

Regarding professional identity, ownership is crucial in defining your sense of responsibility, commitment, and integrity. It shapes how you approach your work and the essence of your relationships and overall performance.

Just as a well-tended garden flourishes, a career thrives when nurtured with ownership, responsibility, and active growth. Professionals who disregard ownership risk stalling their growth and advancement because lack of ownership often leads to a reluctance to be accountable for mistakes or poor performance. It breeds a culture of blame-shifting and finger-pointing, hindering problem-solving and continuous growth.  

So, what is ‘ownership’ anyway?

In the professional context, ownership means fully owning your actions, decisions, and outcomes related to tasks, projects, or roles, which involves a proactive commitment to driving results, meeting deadlines, and upholding the highest standards of quality and integrity. It goes beyond the scope of defined responsibilities but encompasses a mindset of accountability, initiative, and pride in one’s contributions.

You distinguish yourself from the crowd when you treat your roles as more than just jobs and embrace your duties as personal commitments to success and growth. To form the foundation of a solid and reputable professional identity, we need to embrace ownership at four levels:

  1. Ownership at the Personal Level
    At this level, ownership is about taking responsibility for your thoughts, actions, decisions, words, behaviours and outcomes. It involves being accountable for your performance, acknowledging mistakes, and learning from them rather than deflecting blame onto others; It also extends to managing your time and resources effectively, demonstrating a solid work ethic, and maintaining a positive attitude towards challenges and setbacks. Taking personal ownership helps strengthen a proactive mindset, where you actively seek solutions and take the initiative to fulfil your responsibilities. When you take personal ownership, you establish yourself as a reliable and dependable team member, earning the trust and respect of others.
  2. Ownership at the Team Level
    Team ownership involves recognising that your actions directly impact the team’s success and that your contributions, whether big or small, affect the overall performance and achievements of the team. Within a team, taking ownership shows up in various formats: it could be actively participating in discussions, sharing ideas, and collaborating to make decisions that benefit the group as a whole, Or supporting team members in their endeavours, providing constructive feedback, and celebrating shared successes; Or recognising and appreciating the efforts of others, addressing conflicts constructively. Instead of shying away from disagreements, professionals who embrace team ownership take the initiative to resolve issues to benefit the team’s dynamics and progress. Taking team ownership helps you to strengthen a perspective mindset, where you actively approach challenges and view them as opportunities for learning and improvement.
  1. Ownership at the organisational level
    At this level, ownership entails a collective sense of responsibility, commitment, and dedication that permeates every aspect of the organisation. The organisation’s success is intricately tied to the efforts and actions of every member. It requires employees to recognise their role as a critical cog in the organisational machinery and willingly invest their time, energy, and expertise to drive success. Behaviours at this level look like taking a long-term view of the organisation’s goals, calculating the impact of your actions on its future, or making decisions that align with the organisation’s sustainability and growth. Taking ownership at this level requires an adaptive mindset to demonstrate resilience in facing challenges and changes.
  2. Ownership at the societal level
    Ownership at this level means making decisions and carrying out actions that contribute to society’s well-being and progress. Societal ownership involves a deep awareness and recognition of how our actions, decisions, and behaviours reverberate beyond ourselves and directly affect the well-being of others and the environment. It’s a mindset that transcends personal gain and acknowledges the interconnectedness of all beings. Embracing societal ownership, you take responsibility for contributing positively to your communities and the world, making choices that prioritise collective welfare, environmental sustainability, and the betterment of society. Taking ownership at the societal level enhances a legacy-driven mindset to make conscious choices and carry out actions that contribute to a lasting legacy.

These four levels of ownership interweave to shape you into a responsible, committed, and impactful contributor within your professional spheres and beyond. By embodying ownership at each level, you craft an identity that is not only personally fulfilling but also socially impactful—a legacy that resonates beyond the boundaries of time and profession.

Written by Ella Zhang.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Tech and Innovation - The 4 levels of ownership essential to your professional identity
Ella Zhang
Ella Zhang, author of Upgrade: How to outperform your default self to gain your superpowers, is a strategic change maker, organisational development specialist and coach, who helps business leaders to tap into their inner wisdom to design and fine tune people strategies, form up individual and organisational habits to create value and purpose driven workplaces.

Ella Zhang is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with her through LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website CLICK HERE.