Mentoring Leaders in Your Organization

One thing I’ve noticed several times during my career is that employees don’t often quit companies; they quit people. They don’t leave because they don’t like the organization but rather, they don’t like who they report to. So, mentoring leaders in your organization is vital to the business’s survival and growth.

But mentoring leaders isn’t just about teaching people to be better at what they do. It’s also about fostering a sense of ownership. So, let’s talk about it!

By the way, if you prefer video over text, I’ve got you covered.

Wait, What Do We Mean by Ownership?

There are two types of people in a company: renters and owners.

Renters clock in, do their jobs, and clock out. Owners take the company as seriously as if it was theirs.

Think of a renter versus an owner of a car. If you’re renting a car that you know you’re going to eventually return, it’s not yours, it will never be yours, and you’ll never truly treat it like it’s yours.

But if you go to the dealership and spend tens of thousands of dollars on a car you take ownership of, you’re going to take much better care of it. You’re going to wash and wax it regularly. You might park far away to avoid door dings. And you may choose never to leave it in the hands of the valet.

That’s the difference between a renter and an owner in a company.

You want to staff your organization with as many owners as possible. It’s good for your bottom line, your future, the happiness of your team, and your company culture.

Employees giving high-fives

How Can You Spot an Owner (or Potential Owner)?

So, you’re interested in mentoring leaders and helping them blossom in the workplace. Who makes a suitable candidate for mentorship?

One of the most obvious traits of owners — or employees who will make good owners — is that they’re in it for the long haul. They understand that there isn’t always necessarily a direct, 1:1 correlation between what you put into the organization and what you get out. For them, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Let’s go through an example!

A new employee joins your organization. After one year, they say, “ROI is up 10%. Promote me.” Your ROI might be up, but this person isn’t necessarily an owner.

Instead, let’s say this happens: A new employee joins your organization. After one year, ROI is up 10%. They say, “How can we reinvest this money to see even bigger gains next year?” That is an owner.

None of this is to say that this employee doesn’t deserve a raise or promotion. Maybe they do. Rather, I encourage you to look at their intentions. In the first example, the employee’s intention was to get a promotion. In the second example, the intention was to better the organization.

Owners need a mentality of “we,” not “me.”

Great Employees Aren’t Automatically Great Owners

Let’s say you have an amazing employee but for some reason, you still don’t see the ownership mentality in them. Are you off?

Not necessarily. An employee can be excellent at their job but still not be ready for (or interested in) ownership. Try looking at it like this. What would happen if you were to lose that person tomorrow? It might be a pain but if your operations would easily go on, then you’re likely not dealing with an owner.

If, at the thought of losing that person, you think, “Oh man, we’d be in trouble,” you might be on the right track. And on a similar note…

Owners Don’t Abuse Their Ownership

Something else to look out for? Owners do not take advantage of or abuse the “power” they have in their organization. If you have one of those owners that you really wouldn’t want to lose, you can know you’re dealing with a true owner if they continue to take their job that seriously without throwing it in anyone’s face.

They won’t say or think things like, “I can do what I want because you won’t fire me!” Rather, they respect their ownership, take it seriously, and fully believe that you are a team and you’re all in this together.

Employees sitting on steps with a laptop

Acknowledge and Reward Ownership Accordingly

I’ve talked a lot about what owners can do for the company, but this is a two-way street. If you’ve got an employee with an ownership mindset (hopefully, you have a lot of them!), then the right thing to do is ensure they get something in return.

It starts with simple recognition. Call out their efforts and the results they’ve gotten. Give specific examples of things they’ve excelled at.

You should also consider compensation — in the form of bonuses and raises — in addition to promotions/title changes.

Just like owners don’t take advantage of the company, the company doesn’t take advantage of them. Treat your people well, and they’ll stick with you for a long time. This is what a leader does.

Take Care of Your Owners

As the head of the company, one of your main responsibilities is to look after the people who work under you. What do they want and need? Can you help? Is there something you can provide to make their jobs easier?

staff meeting

If you’re not sure how to answer these questions, ask them! Keep an open line of communication, because transparency is key.

And if these owners don’t report directly to you, then you should be working closely with their managers.

Just like your owners are prepared to invest in your organization long-term, you should be willing to do the same. Just like how Rome wasn’t built in a day, mentoring leaders isn’t an overnight thing either. Slow down and take the time to cultivate an environment of ownership, and your business will flourish.

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Jonathan Baktari MD

Jonathan Baktari, MD brings over 20 years of clinical, administrative and entrepreneurial experience to lead the current e7 Health team. He has been a triple board-certified physician with specialties in internal medicine, pulmonary and critical care medicine. He has been the Medical Director of The Valley Health Systems, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Culinary Health Fund and currently is the CEO of two healthcare companies.
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