The most powerful and courageous thing a leader can do is to protect thought ownership.
Thought ownership allows for individual ideas, contributions, and outputs to be recognized and not entirely assimilated as team, departmental, unit, or organizational successes.
This is not common practice because, for decades, organizational success was not individual success.
However, this is not the same mindset held by Millennials who are less inspired by traditional incentives and more motivated to live authentically and in-line with their sense of purpose. This means that younger employees value their ability to feel as though their ideas and contributions make a difference.
Not convinced of the benefits in shifting toward supporting thought ownership? Here are three interconnected ways thought ownership will lead the new economy:
Remain competitive in the talent market.
Protecting thought ownership is a great way for the micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprise sector (MSME) to remain competitive.
Work within the 20th century transitioned from full-time, lifetime employment towards a more fragmented labor market. Nevertheless, strong and growing economic conditions had employers vying to attract talent with stock options, bonuses, competitive salaries, and attractive office suites.
In current market conditions, larger employers can still offer the hiring packages of the pre-recession economy, but MSMEs are finding their market edge in talent recruitment by being open to creative and purpose-driven employees.
Support employee retention.
Similarly, giving employees ownership over their thoughts and output supports younger talent retention.
Millennials are sharing more than any other generation: shared transportation, accommodation, workspaces, and even pets.
In the sharing economy, many organizations have gone lean. I once worked for a start-up in a co-working space where desk space, chairs, pens, and even refrigerator goodies seemed to only be a suggested—rather than actual—note of ownership.
Within these emerging paradigms of the next generation of work, leaders should still not assume that employees are up for sharing everything in absolute terms.
Employees work harder when feeling connected to their work. Acknowledging and encouraging individual contributions fosters employee engagement and, thus, retention.Employees work harder when feeling connected to their work. Click To Tweet
Position organization as a market innovator.
The best innovation comes from all levels of the organization. This sources from the understanding that fostering the freedom to be creative within the organization can only help it remain competitive.
Protection of thought ownership sends the message that leadership reveres the unique value that each of its employees brings to the organization, motivating employees to do their work well and to reflect on how to improve.Protecting thought ownership lets employees know that leadership reveres each individual's value. Click To Tweet
As a motivator to innovate, promoting thought ownership positions employees well to reflect on how the organization can become more efficient internally (e.g., improvements to operations, systems, or division of responsibility) and externally (e.g., enhanced services/products, partnerships, marketing, customer engagement strategies).
Overall, a shift towards supporting thought ownership is a positive change to organizational culture.
Creating a culture of thought ownership can feel like a daunting orientation to initiate in an organization. Thankfully, leaders have the ability to influence and control organizational culture.
A commitment to small, incremental, day-by-day progress in supporting thought ownership leads to a more systematic and sustainable approach to these three benefits.