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E39 | John Housego: The Importance of Employee Ownership for Business Success

Today’s guest on Mind Your F**king Business Podcast is John Housego, a proud Cornishman now living in Scotland. John’s background is in engineering and he spent 22 years with W L Gore & Associates.

During his time with the company he discovered a passion for developing employee ownership more widely as a business model for the health and welfare of the staff, but also because of the benefits it can bring to company resilience and performance. For John, personal growth at work for all members of the team is incredibly important, as is the culture within that organisation.

Throughout his time as a leader with W L Gore & Associates, he learned to become more self-aware, understood how his actions affect others and also found ways to build stronger teams through effective learning and appreciation for EQ.

On today’s podcast:

  • The impact leaders have on employee performance
  • The sensitivity to team dynamics when things begin to shift in the workplace
  • Why employers should work to develop employee ownership more widely
  • The importance of company culture, values and goals to employees
  • Why having an associate ownership programme works so well at W L Gore & Associates


Today’s guest, John Housego, is passionate about employee ownership and its benefit to society as a whole.

According to John, by taking on more ownership as a whole, we put back accountability and responsibility into society. For example: who is responsible for law and order? We are. The police are merely there to keep it in check. On a more personal level, who is responsible for your health? You are. The doctor is only there to help you maintain it. And so at work, employees should have ownership; they should be responsible for ensuring that what they do benefits the business.

Here John shares why he’s so enthused by employee ownership, and what we can learn from  W L Gore & Associates’ implementation of this way of working.

Humans are the drivers of business

If a business gets so big that people aren’t aware of how their role is impacting the organisation as a whole, and the decision makers are so distant from them, things start to break down.

Communication and an employee’s knowledge of their role including what they bring to work in order to contribute to the business are important if you want people to feel valued and feel as if they are contributing.  

Communication is key

Communication should always be a priority in business, however, it shouldn’t stand alone. The biggest efficiency comes from communication, knowledge and the ability to make decisions.

Effective decision making is all about having the knowledge to be able to make good decisions, and the communication skills to ensure that you have the right people in place to help you carry out the decision.

Leaders are defined by followership

You aren’t a leader if you don’t have any followers. Just because you have the title of manager doesn’t mean you have the support and followership of those you are supposed to be managing.

According to John, leadership is a gift word: leadership can’t be taken or bought, because followership is a gift given to you by someone who follows you. John believes that Gore worked so well because all of the employees bought into this idea.

Leaders are defined by their followers, and followers choose who their leader is.

Ownership means engagement

If you want employees to give their all, they have to feel engaged, they have to feel valued and that they have ownership over their work.

At Gore, when asked their thoughts on leadership, a large proportion of the team stated that they own their work and know it so intimately and how it fits into the overall project, that they feel capable of leading.

Ownership is important for engagement at work, because by feeling you own something and are ultimately responsible for it, you will work towards making it successful because it is important to you too.

What John wishes he knew then, that he knows now:  

  1. How things really work. It took being thrown in at the deep end at Gore to learn how things work.
  2. You have the power to choose how you react.


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