Why There is Power in Giving Credit To the Team

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In order to be an effective team leader, you must know the relative strengths of the individual team members. You need to know who it is that is consistently, and disproportionately, generating the initiatives that are creating the most ‘wins’ for your organization.

But many organizations have developed a culture where having the leader possess such information is actually frowned upon.

I was once in a planning meeting when a well-meaning teammate suddenly exclaimed, “Just think of what our team can accomplish if no one cares who gets the credit!”

That quote is usually attributed to Harry Truman.

Well, with respect to both Truman and this teammate who quoted him, this idea is just wrong.

It really does matter who gets the credit.

The sentiment underlying the statement is noble enough. The idea is that we don’t want our cultures to be infected by grandstanding players, vying for individual attention. I get that.

But the idea that you, as a leader, ought to be unaware as to who keeps coming up with your team’s best ideas is not in the best interest of your team, your culture or your leadership.

It really does matter who gets the credit.

Jack Welch calls this ‘differentiation’. On his website, Welch puts it this way; “Companies win when their managers make a clear and meaningful distinction between top and bottom performing businesses and people.”

If you have bought into the idea that “it doesn’t matter who gets the credit” step back and ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I know who is generating our best ideas?

  • Do I know who is launching our most successful initiatives?

  • Do I know who is producing the most results?

  • Do I know who is the most encouraging person on our team?

  • Do I know who is going out of their way to support their teammates’ projects?

If you do, give them the credit.

Otherwise, if you continue to buy in to the “it doesn’t matter who gets the credit” ethos, you will face an enormous leadership shortcoming; you will be unable to identify your key contributors.

So, no matter how noble the statement sounds, reject the notion that “it doesn’t matter who gets the credit”. Embrace the knowledge of the relative strengths of your team.

The whole team will ultimately benefit if credit is given where credit is due.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Willow Creek Association. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave & Willow and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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