Taking Credit vs. Sharing Credit


If you’ve ever cheated on a test or paid someone to do a paper or project for you, you know about that “whew” feeling that comes with taking credit for something you didn’t do. It comes right after you got that “A”. It comes when you realize, “Wow, I got away with this.”

 Fair or not, it happens, and it doesn’t stop after you walk across the stage. In business situations all over the world, there are people taking credit for things they did not do.

 Our corporate structure is built so that the lower you are in the ranks the more work you do and the more tangibles you create. And the higher up you are the more “thinking” you do and the more credit you take for stuff others do.

 Law number seven of Robert Greene’s “48 Laws of Power” encourages people to “get others to do the work, but always take the credit.” I’ve been told there’s no room for a conscious in business, which might be why I’m moving around the career ladder a bit slower than some (perhaps my conscious is getting the best of me). Something about claiming I didn’t do feels funny. In the workplace, here are two alternatives that might work:

  1. Find a person you can barter services with. If you’re good at creating fancy spreadsheets and your colleague writes phenomenal speeches, do each others’ work and take the credit. That’s a win-win situation that all parties involved could feel comfortable with.
  2. Take the “standing on the shoulders of giants” approach. Take credit in a round about way but acknowledge that the work couldn’t happen without your marvelous staff. Although they know you’re getting credit and perhaps a few perks here and there at the expense of their toil, they’ll be more willing to continue doing great things if they know you shared some of the limelight.

It’s quite easy to take the credit of subordinates, but here’s a tip from Greene about sharing the limelight with superiors:

It’s usually not wise to take the credit of work well done from superiors, even if you’re the one who did the work. Stroke their egos by letting them take the lion’s share of the credit. When you know the truth will eventually come out about who did what don’t worry about getting credit initially.

Have you ever been in a situation where you did the work but lost the cedit, or vice versa? What happened?

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