I continued my journey on the San Antonio Master of Leadership Program (MLP) this month, and our next topic was Board Skills. I mentioned before that this program is not university-based; rather, our cohort of 60+ professionals spend a full day immersed in one subject area, such as Education, Community & Economic Development, Bio & Health, Military Impact, and Technology.

We are more than halfway through the program, and I’ve learned so much. For example, during our visit to the San Antonio Police Academy, I practiced how to shoot a taser gun at a dummy. We also participated in a simulation regarding how our police officers are trained to deal with situations that quickly escalate.

This program has taught me that there is so much happening in our cities that we often take for them granted. The bigger point here is that many nonprofit agencies are filling the gap that government and private business are unable (and sometimes unwilling) to engage.

Collective Ownership

During the most recent MLP meeting, Eric Cooper, President & CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank, shared a terrific example of how an organization will experience a higher level of success when collective ownership exists.

He mentioned that we need to get away from the “you oughta do this” business.

Here are some examples of how “oughta” creeps into our daily work life …

• “Hey, Team! The reason that we are failing to generate any new revenue is because we are not reaching potential new customers. To turn things around, you oughta create flyers and pass them out in high-traffic areas, such as malls.”

• “We have a great opportunity here to use social media to increase our donations. You oughta create an Instagram campaign to increase our reach, especially to Millennials and Gen Z.”

• “I’ve explained this to you many times. I’ve told you that there is only one way for us to get back in the black again. It’s obvious you are not paying attention to what I say. I said that you oughta put in the extra hours of work, including nights and weekends, to get the work done. This program is failing because you guys are not going the extra mile!”

I’m certain you have participated in meetings where either company leaders or peers have made these types of comments. As you can see there is zero accountability here.

The Doers

Eric Cooper shared an example of a board member who decided to do more than expected. During the pandemic, this individual showed up to the warehouse and participated in sorting the food that would be distributed to the folks in need.

Because he is retired, he was able to increase his volunteer efforts, and today he spends nearly a 40-hour week helping the food bank meets its vision and mission. Yes … he also jumps on the trucks and participates in deliveries.

I understand that many of us cannot give this much time and energy to volunteer efforts. However, I do know that many of us, including myself, know that we have opted for the “oughta option” instead of the collective ownership path.

This presentation by Cooper reminded me that organizational success is not realized by the actions of just a few top-notch employees.

Instead, the culture must be set by leaders who promote a mentality of ownership to help the organization reach its goals and objectives.