While in Bangkok, I was talking to a local consultant about how ownership might look different for a middle manager in the Thai government than it does for a middle manager in a fast paced start-up in the US. My high impact middle management model emphasizes the importance if ownership. Like the scene in this picture, leaders in many organizations need find ways to combine traditional views with new ways of working to produce the best long term results.
I would hate for people to dismiss the need to take ownership because they work in an environment where they have seemingly little control and the chain of command is reinforced (like many government environments).
Ownership looks different depending on your circumstances. The question is: What can you impact? How can you have influence? Given the environment, what can you do to move the work forward?
This was an interesting conversation for me and one that will help me with my writing in the future. I want to be clearer about how every leader can own their job and results, even if there are significant constraints in the environment.
In the case of the Thai middle managers, they have a couple challenges. First, like many government organizations they suffer from some resistance to change and feel tension between programs and available resources. The organization slows down due to numerous approvals and protocol. In addition, the Thai culture is one where many people do not feel comfortable voicing their opinions and concerns.
The people I met were talented and dedicated. Their challenge to improve ownership and middle management is going to be a bit more difficult and look different than the same initiative would look in a typical US Company. They seem dedicated to the change and know it will reap great rewards.