I've had many clients ask me over the years "how do I get employees to act like owners?" It's the ultimate objective of any leader. We want people to step up and take responsibility - without the ownership. Yet if we're really honest with ourselves, it's the ownership (i.e. the purpose) that's driving most of us. Wether we own the company, or we have responsibility and authority for a department, it helps inspire action and accountability because we have a purpose. The lack of purpose is what can disconnect us. It's what fosters the "it's not my job" issue. There's no feeling of being connected or having any ownership.
When you have meaning in your life, for example, you're way more motivated and you feel connected and responsible - it could be a new child or grandchild, a love for animals that inspires you to protect them, or wanting a clean earth so you pick up trash wherever you are. When we have a purpose, we have focus and motivation that drives our actions.
So what can we do to help people step up and be accountable? The good news is, it's really not that difficult. It's often overlooked and not practiced because we're so busy we haven't taken the time to do a few basic things:Walk the talk. Set the example by doing all of the things you want in your team, without lecturing about it (and that includes sarcasm).Help each person feel connected to the overall vision and goals; help them find purpose in their work.Ask questions to engage people; listen fully and with empathy; acknowledge you've heard them; and always circle back.Treat each person with respect and kindness. Allow mistakes. Keep helping them develop and grow.
When we take the time to help people feel connected and feel important, they trust in us. They will always want to do more for someone who genuinely cares about them.