In commercials, sitcoms, and movies, we've seen countless portrayals of employees who take undue credit for an idea or work product. The typical scene shows a boss asking a team to come up with an idea, ignoring the suggestions offered, and then coming up with the idea himself - accompanied by applause from each team member except the one who actually came up with the idea in the first place.
This is an exaggerated take on the issue, but it's a good starting point for discussing the ways that more subtle occurrences of this behavior affect your ability to lead. A common complaint among followers is the tendency for their leader to take unfair credit, overshadow others' contributions, and make decisions based on what is best for the leader, not for the organization.
In order to be a lasting leader, you must learn to step out of the spotlight and let it shine brightly on those around you. Doing so encourages employees, motivates them for future successes, and creates a loyalty that will benefit you as the leader and your bottom line in creating loyal customers.
Ultimately, you will be putting others before yourself, and that is one of the keys to lasting leadership. Ask yourself:
- Do I publicly acknowledge the contributions of my associates on a regular basis?
- Do I express gratitude to those around me for a job well done?
- Do I take time to offer encouragement to an associate who is having a difficult time with a project?
- Do I believe our organization is doing well because of me or because of our workforce?
- Which do I find myself saying more: I or we?
In answering these questions and thinking deeply about them in an open and honest way, you may find that there is room for improvement in your efforts to put your people first.