One of the biggest struggles I see new leaders having is the difficulty getting others to care as much as they do. It all comes down to pride in ownership.

I remember taking martial arts as a kid and walking into the training center for months and completely ignored the chairs in the waiting area. Then one day, my instructor placed me in charge of ensuring the waiting room was clean before and after each class. One of the tasks…straightening up the chairs. I could not fathom how people could simply walk past crooked chairs or not care about how they looked when they stood up. I was tempted to make a sign or even “educate” others.

The problem wasn’t the people or their habits, it was me. I had never even given the chairs a second glance until I was in charge of them. When we take over a program or some area, we have pride in ownership. We want things to be just right because our name is attached to it. Or maybe just because we notice the problem now that we own it. Whatever the case, we have to respect the fact that others probably don’t know about the problem.

What can you do? First, think about if the problem is something others need to know about. For example, a sign in the waiting room educating parents on chair alignment would not be something of value. However, if it is something that you learned about that would benefit others, it is something that needs shared.

Next, educate. Maybe people are not taking pride in what they do on a daily basis. Show them the impact of their work. I read before that the coach of the U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball team took them to Arlington Cemetery to get a feel of what it means to serve their nation. They were able to represent our flag in sport because these heroes gave it all for them in combat. Maybe it doesn’t have to be that drastic, but find a way to show them how they fit into the bigger picture.

Lastly, create an environment for them to grow. General Stanley McChrystal talks about being a gardener. The gardener does not make the seed grow. No matter what they do, they can not make the seed grow. They can only cultivate the proper environment for it to grow.

Don’t blame others for not caring about the same things you do, give them ownership of the problem or educate them on the importance of it.

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