Why Great Leaders Never Assume Their Employees Know Who Owns Their Job

… And What Peak Performance Really Look Like.

 Does the person you just hired have a three-dimensional color picture of their job in their head? Do they know what peak performance looks like?


One of the most powerful revelations I had as a manager was when I realized none of the jobs held by my staff, my bosses, or myself, were owned by the person doing the job.  We are so accustomed to saying, “this is MY JOB” that the true owner got lost in the conversation. It became a corporate truism that the position I accepted was mine and I owned it. Even after the position and the company faded into resume history, I would forever refer to the position as “my job” and I suspect you do the same. In reality, my employees did not own their jobs, neither did I, the company owned them and all the expectations associated with them.

So repeat after me “I am not my job”…

You are not your job, you are…as we all are, much more than our jobs. Great leaders remind their teams of that elusive but liberating fact. The self-esteem of your employees will expand exponentially once you commit to recognizing their unique value beyond job title, on a consistent basis.  Continue to support them while holding them accountable to the mission of bringing their job description to life.

An enlightened employee steps into the role of the job with a sense of purpose once they accept the position as

Your Employees Must Take on Your Suit of Armor


an expression of their creativity and not their total identity. It is as if they stepped into a tailor made suit or a suit of armor ready for battle…hopefully it will fit. Everything they do and say while wearing the suit represents their contribution to the company and not the employee’s total self worth. Many employees miss this point, managers as well. Many employees think the job they have was offered to them as a platform for self-actualization or self-expression alone. This mind-set leads to major disappointment.

It is the company’s suit and it is the employee’s personal talents and abilities to wear it for a time that makes it special. The right to wear the suit comes with privileges and responsibilities. You and your employee’s mission is to pour your attitude, capabilities, and effort into wearing that suit in the manner in which it was intended and no less. This goes for the leader as well as the led.

A well-written job description is like the artfully crafted design from skilled tailor to make the suit. The suit’s design fits the mission of the job like a glove. However, it may not fit the person hired to wear the suit perfectly at first. The fact is, when a new employee begins a job they are automatically incompetent by default. No matter how experienced they seem to be you have to assume they do not know how to do their new job until you observe them doing that job several times without supervision. Otherwise, assume they are unconsciously incompetent, meaning “they don’t know they don’t know”.



Most issues of performance can be traced back to mismanaged or poorly communicated expectations of the job. A poorly crafted job description submitted to the new employee is usually the beginning of underperformance. Making a job description a living breathing document can be a powerful and freeing insight for you and your staff. Many managers make the mistake of assuming a new employee knows what is expected of them after a couple short conversations or recitations of policy plus an email or two. What a disconnect.

Your employees do not own their jobs. All employee actions and behaviors, while wearing the position, are either consistent with the job description or they should be considered “non-performance issues”. Non-performance should be completely unacceptable provided the employee has demonstrated she has the capability to do the job. This includes the employee’s attitude. A controlled, constructive, and productive attitude should be required at all times. The classic office outburst, emotional meltdown, or ad homonym attack must be unacceptable by the culture of the company. “We just don’t do that here”.

A manager that truly understands their role will realize their own job description requires them to address any non-performance matter immediately and in an appropriate manor. Sidestepping an opportunity to be instructive


or take disciplinary action immediately is not an option and should be a non-performance issue by the manager if he does not act in a timely manner. If this truth permeates throughout your organization, you will find a much greater trust level between management and staff. This understanding can lead to quantum leaps in overall performance.  Employees will take managerial direction and correction without the drama once they understand your intent and responsibility. The assumption that personal agendas are at the heart of any managerial action will dissipate. The habit of misreading the boss’s intent will no longer be your employees’ preoccupation.

It is up to the employee to fit the suit and not the suit to fit them. Make your job description an ever-present tool. If you do your staff will realize it is their responsibility to gain or lose the weight in order to fit the job you own.

Zemira Jones


One Comment on “Why Great Leaders Never Assume Their Employees Know Who Owns Their Job

  1. Hello Mr. Jones,
    though we have never met and I have read just a small portion of information on you I have discovered something about you. In that document above you outlined the larger and more powerful corporate environment and those who have been the faces of the giants in business. I have worn the shoes and discovered that I was wearing the Armor just a few years ago, feeling disappointed by my own misunderstanding of myself. Because of great intellectual, ingenious and purposed people like you there will be greater and more balanced leaders arising soon.Your words were full of life and prosperity that proves you belong to God and He will never allow what you said from His purpose to return void. Thank You for summing up what should be said in these times! Be blessed and see you soon…

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