How do I get others to take ownership?  


Leif Babin


Leif Babin is a former Navy SEAL officer, co-author of the New York Times best-sellers, “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” and “The Dichotomy of Leadership.” He is  President/Co-founder of Echelon Front, a premier leadership training and education firm.



When it comes to taking ownership, perhaps the most frequently asked question we get at Echelon Front is: How do I get others to take ownership?

In the workplace, the question is often directed toward a peer who dropped the ball on something, at a boss who blames the team for under performance, or toward a team that isn’t getting the job done to a leader’s satisfaction.

On the home front, the question is often directed toward a spouse who reacts negatively to even the most constructive criticism, kids who won’t listen, or toward parents or siblings who refuse needed help or guidance.

Everywhere, in human interactions, we see others who could benefit if they would only stop making excuses, accept feedback, put their ego in check and take ownership.

So, how do you get others to take ownership?


The most successful people don’t cast blame. They don’t make excuses. Instead of complaining about challenges or setbacks, they develop solutions and solve problems. They leverage assets, relationships, and resources to get the job done. Their own egos take a back seat to the mission and their team, whether on the work front, or in their family on the home front. These people, no matter their title or position in an organization, are leaders. And eventually, the people around them start to take ownership as well.

When you take ownership, others start to follow. When you check your ego, others check theirs. When you take ownership of what you could have done better to improve a situation, others are willing to do the same.

When people take ownership, problems get solved. Performance accelerates. Extreme Ownership spreads until it becomes part of the culture. It doesn’t happen overnight. But it will happen. And your team (whether a company, organization, or family) becomes unstoppable.

Extreme Ownership isn’t about anybody else. It’s all about you. So, start taking ownership yourself, and you will see the huge difference it makes in everyone you interact with, both in business and in life.


A father asked me: How do I get my teenage son to listen to me? He was clearly a concerned parent who only wanted to help his son succeed in life. But, despite the father’s best efforts, he told me his son seemed to resist any guidance given to him.

I asked the father: “Did you listen to your dad when you were a teenager?” I know I didn’t—not near as often as I should have.

The point: most teenagers don’t listen to their parents. This is a common thing. So how do you improve this?

It’s all in the approach. Directly confronting someone and telling them they need to stop making excuses and start taking ownership is most likely to deliver the OPPOSITE OUTCOME of what is desired. Instead of accepting the feedback, the person gets defensive. Instead of taking ownership, they point fingers, cast blame, and make excuses. This is the situation this father was dealing with. In trying to get his son to take ownership of the things he needed to improve upon, he was pointing fingers and putting all the blame on his son.

Instead of directly confronting his son about where he was failing and how he needed to improve, I advised the father to start by taking ownership himself. Where could he do a better job of explaining the why, of listening to his son and learning about the challenges he was dealing with, of developing a stronger relationship with a greater ability to influence his son to get on the path toward success?

The more ownership the father took, the more ownership his teenage son would take as result.

The pathway to get others to take ownership is to take ownership yourself.


Identify one relationship that needs improvement and examine where you can take ownership.

Focus on a specific person you might be frustrated with, on whom you’ve been casting blame, or making excuses as to why they aren’t taking ownership. Write down three ways you will take ownership to improve that relationship and solve the problem going forward.

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