Top 10 Leadership Blunders: #7

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Top 10 Leadership Blunders: #7

Encourager-In-Chief: October 16th, 2019

Taking credit for the work of others. (Oh, no he didn’t!)

It’s hard to imagine that any inspirational leader today would stoop so low as to take credit for the work of his or her people. This is usually only seen as a plot device in movies. Yet, sadly, it still occurs in the corporate world.

A few years ago, one of my clients was planning to leave his company. He held the position of VP of sales. At the time, I was working in a staffing company that focused on the printing industry. He sent me a FedEx package containing a sample cover letter and his resume. In the cover letter, it went on to say how, as the vice president of sales, “he brought in over $3 million in new business.”

About the same time that I received his package, he called me and said he was so excited to send out his cover letter, that he had sent it, along with his resume, to a dozen other company owners. It was obvious from the tone of his voice that he was very pleased with himself. I asked him, “as the vice president of sales, did you actually go out and make the sales or did your salespeople make them?” He admitted that the sales were the result of the salespeople.

I explained to him that any business owner looking to hire a VP of sales would not be looking for someone who takes all the glory for his people’s work. After I explained this to him, he agreed. But at that point the damage was already done. He had already sent out that resume and there were at least 12 potential employers who already had formed their first impression of his leadership skills. I should also point out that not one of them contacted him after receiving his package and the company at which he was presently working let him go soon after that incident.

The true test of a leader is not how much you take credit for but how much you recognize and praise your people for the work they do. If you intend to be a leader worth following someday, practice now by taking all the credit for the blame and giving away all the glory to the people you serve.

When the great leaders’ work is done the people say ‘we did it ourselves.
- Everett T. Suters from The Unnatural Act of Management

This excerpt is taken from my Leading with Integrity seminar.

Inspired Leadership V: Leading With Integrity


I encourage you to order my Become a Leader Worth Following audio program, which also covers this lesson in much greater detail.

Become a Leader Worth Following


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