Have you heard the phrase “passing the buck”? It means passing on responsibility for something to someone else.

There is a story about former US President Harry S. Truman who emphasized the importance of taking responsibility instead of passing it to someone else. President Truman had a sign on his desk that said “The Buck Stops Here!”

As President of the United States, he was responsible for making important decisions. The sign was a reminder that he was also responsible for the outcome of the decisions. He could not pass the buck to anyone.

This is what taking ownership at work means.

It isn’t just political leaders who should take responsibility for their decisions. Each of us must take ownership of our work.

Taking ownership in the workplace refers to a person’s sense of confidence in their ability to take responsibility for a task and get it done.

Taking ownership at work

Taking ownership of tasks and projects is the hallmark of a leader. A good leader commits to the success of a task and demonstrates a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the work done. This is how a leader leads from the front and takes ownership of their work.

Let’s look at an example. Wasim was a  marketing manager at an FMCG company with declining sales. The CEO felt that the brand wasn’t able to connect properly with consumers.

When the marketing head shared this problem with his team and asked for new campaign ideas to revive the sales, Wasim stepped forward. He showed his willingness to lead the campaign.

The campaigns did well and the company registered good sales numbers. Wasim was promoted to senior manager of marketing.

Wasim’s story is a classic case of taking ownership and delivering at the workplace.

Let’s look at five key aspects of a person who has an evolved sense of ownership:

  1. Taking responsibility

People with a sense of ownership don’t wait for others to make the first move. They take responsibility for a task by  stepping up and saying, “I can do it.”

It may seem that letting someone else take the responsibility insures you from being blamed for any failure. However, employees must take responsibility for the work assigned to them if they want to stand out at the workplace. This means taking credit when you do a good job but also taking the blame for any failures. One of the main benefits of taking ownership at work is that you are seen as a leader, your seniors trust you and your peers respect you.

  1. Being a problem-solver

Work projects often run into unforeseen problems. People with a sense of ownership don’t wait for someone else to solve a problem. They work on thinking of and executing solutions themselves. If you are taking ownership of a task then you are also responsible for solving any problem that comes your way.

  1. Empowering others

There is a difference between taking ownership at work and micro-managing others. Don’t be afraid of delegating work to others and empowering them.  If you have a habit of taking ownership of a task, you should also allow your team to display the same trait. This is how great teams are built.

Micro-management is the biggest obstacle in fostering a culture of taking ownership in the workplace.

  1. Knowledge sharing

You will often find people who are secretive about work. If you ask them how they did something, they may not be so forthcoming. they may say things like, “This is no big deal” or “I will tell you later.”

Such people believe that sharing their knowledge and insights will make them lose their value in the workplace. This is far from the truth. The most accomplished leaders have talked about learning from their mentors, peers, juniors, and even their rivals. You will find people at the top of their fields readily sharing their stories and lessons with others.

If you want to be a good team player and leader you must be comfortable sharing your knowledge and helping others learn the skills necessary for their growth. Taking ownership at work includes sharing knowledge that helps others perform better.

  1. Team spirit

A leader never focuses only on their personal growth. Team spirit is essential to leadership and self-growth. You must empower your colleagues, share your knowledge and skills with them, and ensure that the team performs well.

A good leader knows that a motivated and skilled team is essential for achieving results at work. Taking ownership of a task means helping your team complete the task.

Do you remember the film Chak De India? Coach Kabir Khan decides to lead the women’s hockey team to victory. However, the newly formed team lacks team spirit. So he works hard to inspire them and build team spirit first. He shows them that if they don’t work as a team to score, their individual strengths are meaningless.

This is how they go on to win.


A leader is always ready to take the first step and encourage others to take action as well.

Taking ownership at work is the skill that Harappa Education aims to inculcate in learners through the Leading Self course. This online course offers you self-paced learning and has an engaging section on the Ladder of Learning. It guides you through four steps of learning that make you adept at becoming the owner of your workplace performance. You must leverage this course’s benefits if you aspire to become a successful businessperson and take your career to great heights!

Explore topics such as What is Career Development, Career Planning, the Iceberg Model, the Career Path Planning, What is Planning from our Harappa Diaries section and lead on a path of self-development.

Related articles

Discover more from Harappa with a selection of trending blogs on the latest topics in online learning and career transformation