Jay Mohr on Ownership

The following is from guest writer, Ed Russo.

Leadership involves a certain amount of risk taking. This includes being accountable for the decisions we make and the projects we manage. When it goes well, we get the glory. When it doesn’t, then we are truly showing our leadership skills as we take responsibility. Either way, Jay Mohr has something to teach us about ownership.

Jay Mohr is a comedian and former Saturday Night Live cast member. He has since starred in the sitcom Gary Unmarried and launched a syndicated sports radio show and a popular podcast. For his podcast sign-off and often during the show Jay says, “put your name on it,” when someone makes a bold or strong statement. The idea is that if you are going to say or write something, stand behind it.

Most of us will not make statements quite as outlandish as Jay, but that is no reason to shirk the ownership of our actions. As a leader, you spend a tremendous amount of time and energy developing employee skills and changing office culture. When you try something new or change policies, goals, etc. you are putting your name on it. This may not be the intent, but it is the reality.

Having the conviction to make a strong statement can establish credibility when you can back it up. “Because I said so” may work as a parent but not so much as the boss. You must be able to explain:

  • what you decided
  • why it is the best course of action
  • how your team can support it

Once this has been explained, you need to leave the door open for opposite points of view and be willing to discuss others’ opinions and concerns.

Providing bold direction does not guarantee success. On the occasions (albeit rare) when your plan does not work out, it’s easy to attribute blame to outside forces. Blaming others, especially anonymous others, makes it seem as though you are not accountable and/or don’t have the power to be in control. By not owning the tough messages you also give the perception that you have fluffy content that is good to hear but may not be of value.

Jay is putting his name on it. What do you stand for? Do you accept responsibility for your actions? Do you admit when you are wrong? Own your decisions, comments, and opinions. It will make you a more effective leader and increase the chances that others will feel the same way.

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Ed Russo is the Program Manager for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Mr. Russo works with educators, law enforcement, community leaders, and government officials to implement child safety resources into schools and communities across the country. Through presentations and trainings, Mr. Russo provides participants with information about how safety resources can help prevent the victimization of children. Prior to joining the Center he was a Human Resources Manager in a Florida County Clerk’s Office and has over 18 years of teaching experience. Mr. Russo is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a BS degree in Education.

Mr. Russo can be contacted through Twitter and LinkedIn.