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Coaching Leadership

Claiming credit that we do not deserve

One of the most super-annoying habits is to overestimate one’s contribution to any team’s successes. Even if you genuinely believe you saved the day, chances are, you didn’t do it all by yourself. There are exceptions, of course, but let’s not go there for now.

Instead, try this exercise:

a) For one day, take a mental note of all the achievements (big or small) you congratulate yourself for
b) Towards the end of the day, write them all down, this could take some time but do it anyway
c) Review each of your achievements and ask yourself if there’s anyone else who should deserve the credit

Additionally, ask this question — if someone else were to witness each of the situations above, would they give you as much credit as you claim for yourself? Or would they hand it out to someone else? (Maybe even themselves?)

If you have the courage and humility to carry out the exercise, you will realise that we have a biased memory. It also makes us consider the possibility that someone else’s perspective might be closer to the truth.

Now, this brings me to the second part of “claiming credit” — the rage-inducing habit of stealing ideas or taking the credit for someone else’s contribution. If you’ve experienced this, I know how you feel — bitter, deeply hurt, deprived, and victimised. It’s theft, after all! And the worst part is that you would remember it even after decades.

Heck, you might even forget someone for not recognising your performance, but it’s hard to do so with someone who recognises your contribution but claims it to be his/her own. The worst part is that not only will these morons claim more credit than they deserve, but they also slowly begin to believe it! All the while their victims are seething resentment.

Why do people, particularly leaders and managers, have a hard time giving credit to someone who deserves it? I don’t know; perhaps, it could be their upbringing or their need to win or be right all the time. But it doesn’t matter as you have always will have two choices to make:

If you’re working with a credit hogger, be the bigger person, share the wealth and let them be. Go ahead and create a case study for your own (or future employer’s) reference.

If you’ve been a credit hogger yourself, it’s time to seriously consider changing your habits, beginning with giving credits back to the ones who deserved it all along. There’s no such thing called “moving on” in this case. You either fix it or go down in history as “one asshole of a leader.”

I know legacy is overrated, but that’s not the kind you want to leave behind. Right?

H/T: Marshall Goldsmith