Have you ever had a feeling that someone has stolen your idea and presented it as his own? Did you feel bad about it? Did you feel it is not fair and that you should take the credit? Why? The answer is really simple: the need for recognition and credit for something we thought up is strong in all of us. I’m sure it has happened to many of us, and I’m also sure that very often we don’t realize that it was the best thing that could happen. Dwelling too much on our ego often prohibits us from learning, growing, or from getting the idea to the next level, getting it to be widely accepted and enthusiastically executed.
Imagine that after several weeks of work analyzing data from several projects and getting feedback from numerous people you come up with a proposal how to improve a particular process in your company. You meet with several senior managers from the company and present your idea. They seem to like it but you don’t hear the enthusiastic reaction you expected. After two weeks one of the managers sends an email to the whole company announcing a new change in the process exactly the way you proposed. How do you feel? He stole your idea. It is being implemented but everyone believes it is his idea, and your name never comes up. So what? This is a blessing in disguise. Look at it from positive side. He took your idea and it is being implemented! And it has a backing of a senior manager so it will be done much better than you ever could. That is actually a great win for you as you contributed heavily to the success of the company. If you tried to hold on your idea and pushed your ego forward it may have never been implemented at all.
Leadership is about getting things done. It is not about your ego or taking credit, but about being able to marshal forces necessary to push forward and reach the set goal. When things go as planned the leader should be pretty invisible to the outsider world and the team should take the credit. And it doesn’t matter whether the team is someone reporting to you, your peer, or your superior. As long as things get done you are doing a good job.
The time for you to get to the spotlight comes when things turn sour. The project is delayed, the team doesn’t execute as it should, the customer is angry. That is when you have to step up and resolve the issues. Don’t blame others, don’t blame the team, it is your fault as a leader that you were not able to prevent the issue from happening so accept the blame, learn from it, forget it, and focus on the solution. Of course you need to provide appropriate feedback to your team but it shouldn’t be broadcasted outside. The team and its individual members should get the feedback and should understand what went wrong, learn from it and resolve the issue. But it is internal matter. For the rest of the world, you take the blame and the responsibility for fixing it.
That is called leadership. It is unlikely that people will follow someone who focus more on himself than his team. Why to follow a person who will always push his agenda over yours? And if the team doesn’t follow you than things won’t get done, the business will suffer and in the long run you will fail.
Twitter type summary: “Leadership is about marshaling forces necessary to get things done and not about your ego or taking credit.”
What are your thoughts about the topic? Should the team take the credit or its leader? Or would you go for something in between?