Ownership, Autonomy, and Responsibility

Three pillars of scalable teamwork.

Andreja Dulović
Management Matters
Published in
8 min readJun 30, 2021

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Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

The purpose of this article is to describe the impacts ownership, autonomy, and responsibility have on us and the work we do. This breakdown is for managers, individual contributors, and anyone else working in IT. These topics are universal within our industry. Ideas on how to improve these three aspects are also included below.

Definitions

Ownership

Ownership in this context refers to when a person takes care of a goal/result, is proactive in understanding what needs to be done, and helps align other people toward that same objective. If you take ownership of something, it means others can rely on you to be committed to that goal, from end-to-end (and not just “your” parts of work).

Responsibility/accountability

Responsibility means that it is up to you to make decisions, do what is needed, and make sure others can count and depend on you to own the goal. Responsibility and trust go hand in hand, and the more you are trusted, the more responsibility you could have.

Many authors have various definitions of the terms “accountability” and “responsibility.” The line between them can be blurry and people often use both words in various…

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