Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment on last week’s post.  The question I posed:  “What is the difference between responsibility and ownership?”

Here are just a few of the great responses:

  • Responsibility is having an obligation to something or someone.  Ownership is having a choice.   (Sylvia Garcia)
  • Responsibility is doing what is right because it is the right thing to do.  Ownership takes responsibility and makes it personal…having a vested interest in the situation and caring enough to do it right. (Marcia Wilcoxen).
  • Responsibility has a limit; ownership is absolute. (Megan Henderson)

(You can view all of the responses in the comment section under last week’s post.)

At work and at home, do you take ownership? Are people meeting your expectations?  Are you an “A Player”?

First, let me explain how the “A Player” concept started.  We were working with the CEO of a large company in Dallas and asked what she did over a holiday weekend.  She shared that she had four nephews (under the age of 10) come for a visit.  Can you imagine!  I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

When I asked how she could manage all of that, she said, “It was easy!  I just let them know what my expectations were, and they got to choose whether or not they met them.”  Huh?  How could it be that easy?  Could this woman leap tall buildings in a single bound?  Did she have a magical lasso that made them tell the truth?

She assured me that anyone could do this and proceeded to explain how the concept came to be.  Several years of frustrating visits lead her to an idea.  She was tired of micromanaging their behavior all weekend and wanted a more fun and relaxed visit.  She got a poster board, wrote their names across the top and stapled a $5 bill under each of their names.  Then, there was a list of rules:

No jumping off the roof, no swearing, no yelling, no biting, no screaming, no peeing in the pool, etc.

If ANY of the boys broke a rule, ALL of them lost a quarter.  At the end of the visit, they got to keep however much money they had left.  That was it!

She explained that at first, it was a challenge.  After the first hour, they had to add a new rule “no tattling!”  and by the end of the first day, the kids were actually policing each other and making sure they were all following the rules!   She went on to say that she believed the kids didn’t meet the expectations on previous visits, not because they didn’t want to or couldn’t, but because they didn’t know what the expectations were.  What a cool concept!

In general, there are three types of people:  A Players, B Players, and C Players.  We all fluctuate between these, even in the course of a day, but we stay in one category more consistently than others.  Here’s a brief description of each.

 “A Players” are proactive, lead by example, go the extra mile, and take personal ownership.  These are the people we wish we could clone.

“B Players” are stuck in the status quo.  They come in on time, do their work, and leave on time, but they do just enough to get by, and they must be managed and motivated regularly.

“C Players” are the people you wish would be “A Players” on someone else’s team!  They are chronic victims, complain, gripe, moan, and always find reasons why things are unfair to them.

If you subscribe to my philosophy, that adults are just big versions of kids, it stands to reason that if it this concept worked for kids, maybe it works for adults too!  What if the reason people fail to meet expectations at work (and home) is not because they don’t want to, don’t care, or don’t know how, but because they don’t know what the expectations are? What if all of this time, we have been getting frustrated with people for something we can prevent?

The first step in the journey is to determine what an “A Player” looks like at home, work, on a team, etc.   How do they communicate?  Do they embrace change?  What makes them a stellar performer?

Whether your focus is personal or professional, your homework this week is to make a list of characteristics that you believe makes someone an “A Player”.  In other words, if someone demonstrated these characteristics on a regular basis, they would meet and/or exceed your expectations.

We’ll continue the process next week!  Make it a great one!


  1. Anne, I am in the OD dept and would like to get certified as a coach. Any suggestions? BTW love your motivational pieces.

  2. Love the magical lasso….

    This reminds me of “The Art of Possibility,” by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander. Ben tells his 30 students at the beginning of a two-semester study of musical performance at the New England Conservatory that every student will get an “A” in the course. All they have to do is write him a detailed letter describing their experience getting that grade – the person they will become. By focusing on that outcome and envisioning in detail as if it had already happened, his students had amazing results!

    Have a great week, Anne. – Julie

  3. Interesting question. Maybe this is over my head, but I think owership assumes responsibility for both good and bad outcomes. Responsiblity takes ownership of a failed outcome.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment