I’m facing a bit of a dilemma. Among community professionals, I know that I am not alone in this one.
I go back and forth on the scale of humility and self-promotion on a daily, even hourly, basis. I like to do the work. I don’t always like to talk about doing the work. It takes a lot out of me to promote what I’ve done.
What’s Wrong with This?
That’s actually a problem. Working heads down all the time is not how you get promoted, get better clients, get to chase the dream. It’s how you get lost in details and lose the big picture. It’s important to do the work, but perhaps it’s even more important to promote the value of that work and your role in it? I say that with a deliberate question mark at the end of that sentence.
I do believe that the best leaders make their followers look good, but there is a great tradeoff here. The person quietly giving away the credit is often overlooked, underpaid, and under-appreciated.
I don’t know if it’s my gender or my southern upbringing, but I almost never ever take credit for the work that I do. Patrick O’Keefe once wrote about this as well. Patrick is southern too, so maybe there’s something in my latter theory above.
Giving away credit feels good, feels like an open door. In an ideal world, everyone would give each other credit and see that all our efforts are interconnected. But that ideal world doesn’t exist… yet. I like to operate thinking it does, but I can’t help but wonder what I may have missed by not taking responsibility.
What’s the Opposite of Giving Away Credit?
The person who carries around data about their contributions, charisma in the face of uncertainty, and confidence in their value is the person who attracts the attention of the C-Suite, who demands greatness from those around them, and who ultimately gets raises, promotions, and new opportunities.
So… Are we doomed if we don’t take credit, if we don’t walk with serious swagger?
Or is there another way?
And at what point do the scales balance between taking credit and giving it away?