Turn Renters into Owners: A Leader's Guide to Building a Strong, Invested Team

Let’s start off this article with a brain teaser. What’s the difference between your car and a rental car?

Of course there’s the obvious answer: one of them you own and one of them you rent. That is the surface-level difference. One of them you get to keep and one of them you use only for a short time.

I’m asking you to go deeper than that. What’s the difference in significance between your car and a rental car?

They share a lot of similarities on the surface no matter what car you own or rent. They both run on four wheels. You drive them both; you refuel them both when their tanks run out; you sign a contract to leave the lot with them both.

But you would not wash a rental car.

Why not?

Because you are nowhere near as invested in a car that you rent as you are in a car that you own.

A rental car is something you use only for a short time. And sure, when you are using it, you want to make sure you are fulfilling the contract you’ve signed. But no more than what’s outlined there.

You are not taking it through the car wash and you are certainly not paying to investigate any strange sounds it makes under the hood! The relationship between you and a rental car is purely transactional.

Simply put, you have no sense of ownership of, or responsibility for, a rental car – so your level of personal investment is low.

And by now, I’m sure you can see where this is going…

Do your people see your organization as a rental?

How easily this thought translates to the idea of employee engagement. When it comes to buy-in, your team has two options: coast or excel.

They can see their relationship to your organization as a transaction – a purchase of their meeting their contractual obligations – in essence, ticking off boxes to get paid…

…or they can feel they have some ownership of and responsibility for the organization’s mission and goals.

They can believe that they are an important part of something bigger than themselves – a movement that cannot move as far without their contribution.

They can have a desire to invest in the organization beyond their obligations – not just ticking off boxes, but pouring in their best intellectual resources, exercising their creativity, committing with their follow-through – because it is not just any organization, it is their organization. Or, rather, it is “our” organization.

Between those two – just ticking off boxes, and beyond that – which do you think will add more value to the organization overall? Which do you think will stay with your organization longer? Which will improve the morale and productivity of those around them? Which do you think is more personally fulfilled?

To answer that, all you have to do is ask yourself one question: do you add more value to a rental car, or to the car you own?

I think the answer is clear!

Once your team’s mindset shifts from rental to ownership, there is no limit to what they are able to accomplish for your organization. But now the question then becomes – how? How do leaders get their teams’ full buy-in?

What does it take to make someone care?

Well, I don’t have the space to answer that in this post… but I did offer a team engagement leadership training that outlines 5 ways to motivate all your team members to lean in.

The replay is free, and you can watch it here – if you want a fully motivated workforce 🙂

That’s all for now,


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