Key Point: Some leaders are just lousy at sharing winning situations. And the higher they get in terms of position, the more scarce-minded they can become. These same leaders are often first class at laying blame at your feet if things aren’t going well. Or, they like to play it both ways; there to confirm how they were behind you if you win, but ready to abandon you if things go wrong. That strategy is often part of what’s helped them survive corporate politics. Ultimately, if someone is too “successful,” they need to show who’s boss. They can even become petty when they feel threatened, and will put you down in subtle or not so subtle ways. They have to be “alpha.”
The leaders I admire most and genuinely inspire me, generously give and share recognition for winning situations and ideas. They pay attention to catalysts; people who spark an idea that becomes a big thing. They understand that success has many authors, while failure is orphaned. And, who steps up to accept team or individual failure? It’s the strong and giving leader. They have the confidence to accept full responsibility, and give their teams or individuals necessary air cover. It’s leaders like that who become revered. Why? Because you can’t B.S. the troops. The team sees all and knows who contributes what. And they love transparent, authentic, genuine people in charge. Scarce-minded leaders often unknowingly become addicted to adulation and counter intuitively seem to become more and more convinced that their glorified success is almost exclusively of their own self-made brilliance. Their ego starts believing in their “press release.” Knowingly or unknowingly, they surround themselves with “yes people” and “adoring fans.” They also do not realize it’s the beginning of their demise.
In your career, recognize that often the depth and specifics of your contributions will go unnoticed and/or be under appreciated. Even though you deserve “credit,” or at least a tip of the hat acknowledgement, it may not come. In fact, historians may rewrite the story of what really happened in ways that fully underrepresent the value you bring. As hard as this is to accept, it is likely to happen more than once. How you reframe these circumstances is very important. If not, it is easy to feel under appreciated, and eventually, even bitter.
- The most important validation of your contribution has to mostly come from you. Be honest and generous with yourself. Celebrate your many wins. Try not to be too disappointed when others swoop in to take or leverage your ideas as their own. You (and most often, the important people around you) know very well the contribution you’ve made. Relish that.
- Be known as a generous giver and person who expands and shares the slices of the pie. Cover hard for your team if you happen to have a screw up. You and they, as I often note are, “very much worth it.”
No takers in The Triangle,
One Millennial View: I love the honesty in this. It’s not only ok that acknowledgement will often not come. For me, it’s very ok. You know what feels better than a “good job” from the big boss? Looking at your equals and knowing they know darn well who’s performing, who’s not, and then moving forward to get better and accomplish more. If we want to get “really Millennial” about this, how about this analogy? No one’s thrilled with the person who takes a gym selfie and posts it online for “likes.” But everyone is encouraged to appreciate their own results and have enough confidence to realize people notice, even if no one says anything.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis