That’s How an Owner Behaves

Owners lead distinctively and noticeably differently than others.

Owners see things differently than others. They care more deeply, take responsibility more seriously, and sacrifice more willingly.

We don’t have to be actual owners to authentically lead that way. It’s a choice we can make, and the results speak for themselves.

A group of us on staff were on retreat and walked up to an ice cream shop on a break. You could see a person at the cash register leaving it with the drawer open and presumably empty. They walked up to the door, looked at us with emotionless expressions, flipped the open sign over to closed, and walked away. The store closed at 6:00pm. It was 5:55pm.

That was not the owner.

How do I know?

That’s not how an owner behaves. If it was an emergency and they had to leave, they would have opened the door, said something, and encouraged us to come back!

Courtesy of

I was at a small local restaurant, cafeteria style, where there was a confusing sign on display. Something about animal welfare and antibiotic regulations. I asked what it meant. The first person shrugged their shoulders, smiled, and politely said “I don’t know.” I asked another and the response was “I didn’t know we had a sign,” with an expression like, “What do you want from me, I put food on a plate.”  Then a young adult interrupted, and said, “I’m sorry, looked me in the eyes, and confidently explained that the sign meant they purchase food from sources that treat animals humanely and still have high standards in quality.”

I found someone who takes ownership.

Was she higher on the org chart? Nope. She puts food on a plate. But she stepped up.  It made all the difference in the world. I’ve been back many times.

When we lead with an ownership mindset, we take initiative beyond our given responsibility, go the second mile, and serve with a cheerful heart. When this happens the results are remarkably different.

Let’s take these two stories and make a connection to leading with an ownership mindset.

3 Essentials:

1) Start with something you deeply care about, over time that transforms to conviction

It’s impossible to lead for long without conviction because there will always be opposition to progress. Leading through opposition requires endurance, resilience and grit, and all three are strengthened by conviction.

Working hard is great, but that’s not the same as conviction. Conviction feels more like the moment you sign a 30-year mortgage. Now you’re an owner, you’re all in, you are committed.

Conviction is a belief that incorporates a deep resolve that moves you to keep going even in the face of great obstacles.

That’s conviction.

The interesting thing about the force of conviction is that is starts with something as gentle as caring.

God will place a burden on your heart. Something that compels you to lead toward a better future, something so important that it causes you to genuinely care. This deep care compels you to take action.

Conviction with a clear and compelling vision creates a powerful combination that will draw other sharp leaders to join you.

Partnerships with leaders who also have an ownership mindset will allow all of you to accomplish far more together than you could on your own.

Are leaders with an ownership mindset joining your team? If not, what do you need to change?

2) Regularly invest time thinking with the future in mind

consumer mindset thinks about the moment. What do I get, and will this provide what I need right now? An owner mindset thinks with the long view in mind, what is sustainable and provides for the needs of many?

A good picture of this is how we think about a rental car versus the car we own. In the rental car it’s all about meeting my current need, will it work for a few days and get me to my immediate destination. And we treat the car accordingly. With the car we own, we hope to get tens of thousands of miles from it and when we think with that long view in mind, we are much more attentive to what the car needs not just what we need.

Leading with an ownership mindset is essentially a matter of stewardship. When we’ve been entrusted with something that matters, something of eternal consequence, it changes our heart and how we lead.

The leader with an owner mindset asks questions like these: 

  • What investments are needed now that provide a higher long-term return?
  • How can I best invest in those who are on the team with me?
  • How can we make progress, be productive and enjoy the journey together?
  • What are the long-term results that make the community and maybe even the world a little better? 

The best leaders with an ownership mindset live present in the moment, but remain focused on what’s best for the people in the future.

3) Cultivate a bias toward action that generates progress toward the vision

Heartfelt ownership always leads to action, and it matters what action you take.

If your car is on fire, you take action! You immediately do everything humanly possible to put it out.

If your rental car is on fire, you shoot a quick video and send it to all your friends.

OK, maybe you don’t do that… but you get the idea.

The ownership mindset in a leader is never satisfied merely with ideas and dreams. While they play a vital role, in the end, it’s about taking action. Strategic action with measurable results that deliver progress toward the vision.

In your role as a leader, what action is needed today, this week, next month?

Are you working on plans to set that action in motion?

Your care, conviction, drive is vital, but you don’t have to do it all today. Keep

making progress, but take time for you. Take time to breathe, find healthy rhythms of rest and above all never let your convictions steal your joy.

If you and I could have coffee together, I might ask you these questions:

  • What leadership burden do you carry?
  • What do you deeply care about?
  • What compels you to take action?
  • Are you having fun?

I pray the blessing of burden, care, conviction, and joy over you.

Read more from Dan Reiland »

This article originally appeared on and is reposted here by permission.

Dan Reiland
Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and the author of several books including Confident Leader! Become One, Stay One (Thomas Nelson).