11/03/2013 05:57 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Crowdsourcing Leadership

As an executive coach, I often work with clients who want to make a bigger difference in their organization and/or the world. Fostering and tapping into a mindset of ownership is the most powerful way to do that. Here's how.

The majority of people in any organization have plenty to contribute at the level of leadership, and stay silent. Most wonder -- even struggle with -- what to say or do in many situations. Should I speak? Should I show my value? Should I listen? Should I ask a question? Should I avoid controversy? This is even more common when it's not their own meeting, area, project, business, or direct responsibility.

In response to that, I tend to offer an overall ownership mindset question to ask ourselves at that moment of indecision about chiming in: "If I owned this place, what would I want me to do, say, ask, or let pass in this situation?"

Thinking like an owner is a leadership approach that saves money, time, and upgrades everyone's ability to make a more significant difference.

"What would I do if I owned this place?" cuts through any need to say and do things primarily for the sake of appearances, "politics," boss- or people-pleasing, being noticed, etc. It stops you and others wasting time and money on the unnecessary.

What would the owner of this business or organization do right here, right now? Why? What's needed? What can I do to make that happen?

This coaching - really a challenge to make sure your mental framework is one of taking on bigger-picture responsibility and thinking -- will ensure you engage at your highest level.

Try it. Think like the owner - and encourage others in your organization to do that -- in as many situations possible. In creating a mindset of ownership throughout your enterprise, you are indeed crowd-sourcing leadership, and upgrading the likelihood that you will meet and exceed your overall potential.