Book Review: A Company of Owners

companyofownersAbout CULTURE (NACWE Focus for November 2016)

Book Review of

A Company of Owners: Maximizing Employee Engagement -Daren Martin


Karen Lindwall-Bourg


I love this book! It is small, colorful – every page has some color on it and every page design seems different; and I love how quickly Daren Martin gets right to the point in a concise and creative manner. I always thought culture just happened. Now I know that I actively and purposefully create it! And in my organization(s), that’s just what this entrepreneur is going to do!

J.C. Penney said, "I will have no man work for me who has not the capacity to become a partner."

“Owners” versus employees: Author Daren Martin begins by explaining that you must hire the right people - high-performing, empowered, “owners” as opposed to employees, who are willing to pick up a wad of paper in the hallway - and the company culture should reinforce engagement and produce an owner mentality. Do you work with owners or employees? My Virtual Assistant asked if she could spruce up a Facebook cover for me! She cares what I look like; she’s an “owner” and a keeper!

Communicate clear vision and direction through inspiring stories: Author and thought leader Blake Leath said instead of working hard to get members more engaged, you should focus on developing a company culture that engages people already and taps into their desire to succeed. Company culture begins with clear, meaningful and attainable vision and clear direction through inspiring stories that is understood by everyone throughout the company. I’m a Narrative Therapist at heart – I LOVE stories! What stories can you tell of your company culture and your vision for a successful future? Has your team ever heard your stories?

Companies need a mantra, not a mission: A mission statement is a bunch of management words on the wall that don't tend to drive action. A mantra directs actual behavior - tells you how to act, what to do, what to make a priority, and more! For example, the Ritz Carlton mantra is "We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen." Review your mission, vision & values. What is your company's mantra?

How are your team members viewed? Ownership cultures value and reward performers, outliers, and visionaries. You are on the same team with a common goal, and the result is collaboration from one area to the next around very important goals. Don’t forget to PLAY! Southwest Airlines’ philosophy is "People rarely succeed at anything unless they are having fun doing it." The best work places are full of life and energy. At your company, do you act more like a dysfunctional family or a high-performing team? How can you add fun to the team?

Jim Collins said "get the right people on the bus." The real secret to a successful business is people, people, people. You must start with the right people. Michael Jackson was wrong! One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. Manage up or manage out. Ask yourself… Of the people on my team, would I hire them again? If the answer is no, either manage them up or manage them out!

Keep the right people: Colin Powell said, "Leaders are made, not born." Create a work environment where people want to succeed often, and provide an enriching learning and growing environment. These are incentives! Anonymous quote, “If you think hiring professionals is expensive, try hiring amateurs!" What are you doing to actively create leaders in your company and what could you be doing? How do you make your environment one of more learning and growing?

Be a manager who believes in and leads owners: What a manager thinks about workers directly impacts the results they receive. Bob Conklin said, "If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strength instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather than dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow to their capabilities." Max DuPree said, "The first responsibility of the leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant." To create an owner culture, managers should regularly ask - What do you need to be even more efficient in your job? What is getting in the way? What would you change if you were in charge? Then how do you creatively say “thank you” to all you work with?

Collaborate! Be an influencer who leads and inspires people and does the right thing because it is the best thing to do. Companies that succeed foster collaboration cultures - they pick the right people, train them well, and then let them make decisions – they empower them. To truly empower you must give people the authority, opportunity, and encouragement to make decisions in all areas. Chinese proverb, "Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand." My Virtual Assistant recently said, “You need to trust me!” I let go; I said, “OKAY!” And instead of being stressed, I finally felt relieved!

Be an owner … and lead others to do the same: Alan Kay said, "The best way to predict the future is to create it." Owners have a psychological stake in the success of the company that drives their daily behavior. They treat the company as if it were their own. They take losses personally, celebrate successes as if they were their own, and have an enterprise mentality. Owners are priceless and establish themselves as indispensable contributors. Owners get things done. They encourage along the journey. How can you change as an owner and how can you invite your team to be more owners than employees? Speaking of collaboration - ask them what they think!

Owners bring a plan with their idea. They give others something to say “yes” to! It's easier to say yes to a plan than to an idea.

The 9 fundamental characteristics at the core of every owner:

  • They analyze and turn data into meaningful information.
  • They initiate-they grab the ball and advance it down the field. They asked for what they need and share their ideas while taking responsibility for them. They deliver formulated strategies for making the goal a reality.
  • They are strategic thinkers who use their gifts to further the company and its initiatives by thinking creatively and pursuing opportunities and addressing problems.
  • They are forward thinkers who learn from the past but are always facing forward. They always look around the corner to see what is coming next so they can be ahead of the curve.
  • They are connectors who understand their colleagues and supervisors and those under their care as vital resources and relationships.
  • They are learners who always want to improve - they are consummate readers.
  • They are accountable and take responsibility for everything in their world all the time.
  • They are empowered and push through for taking a moment to reflect and invite input from others.
  • They empower themselves and others.


"Build your team. Then, build your team!” – Daren Martin


What are your take-aways – first steps toward building a company of owners!?

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karenthumbnailKaren Lindwall-Bourg is the passionate Founder of and Counseling Supervisor at RHEMA Counseling Associates in North Texas.  She and her team of zealous Associates desire to be voices of wisdom and compassionate companions for their counseling, coaching and consultation clients on their journey to insight and inspiration.  She has been a Diane “groupie” and a NACWE member since 2013. Counseling - and Coaching -  and Writing/Publishing – 

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