As leaders, we’re told to be humble when it comes to accepting credit for our teams’ wins. But, when we deflect the credit we’re given, we actually minimize our own efforts and impact. It’s an interesting paradox to be in.
So, how can we confidently accept credit without feeling like imposters, as though we’re bragging or taking credit away from our team?
To Accept Or Not To Accept?
We all have different reasons for accepting credit (or not). The first thing to acknowledge is why you want to start accepting your credit in the first place. When I ask clients about why they don’t want to own their credit, we always discover what accepting credit will actually do for them and their team. Reasons that come through as to the benefits of accepting credit are vast, including:
• You need to hear it. Just as you’re a cheerleader for your team, helping them acknowledge their own successes and strengths, you need this as well. Notice how your team members perform once they’ve heard and accepted a compliment. Are they more confident, committed or driven? It works the same for you.
• You add more value. By acknowledging the skills you bring and value you create, you allow yourself to apply more of these skills, adding even more value as a leader.
• Build credibility. When you deflect credit given, people question your leadership — whether consciously or not — as your deflection casts doubts on your ability to lead. When you acknowledge the contribution(s) you add, you build others’ confidence in your leadership, your team and your organization.
• Build authority. By owning your contributions, you understand your direct impact. You’re able to demonstrate what you can achieve, drawing people to you. Think of Elon Musk: a great example of someone who can talk about what he’s done and someone people want to follow in droves. He doesn’t talk about his successes in a bragging way but in a factual way that inspires.
• Create stronger relationships. Accepting credit given to you helps create stronger relationships. When you don’t accept credit from someone, you’re basically saying “I don’t believe you” or “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” By accepting, you demonstrate trust in their opinion.
What’s important to remember is that just because you start to give yourself credit doesn’t mean that you’re taking credit from your team. Rather, you’re acknowledging the role you played in supporting your team’s success. Own this without downplaying your contributions.
Owning Your Credit
It’s okay to feel uncomfortable when accepting credit. To move through these feelings, start
• Noticing your self-talk.
Do you think that you didn’t have much to do with a success? Notice what crops up for you during these times and start to change your inner dialogue to one of “I deserve credit because of [x].” Highlight in your mind the role you played, and acknowledge your part in your team’s success.
• Recognizing when you deflect.
Your successes are not due to luck. You may have been at the right place at the right time for the success to happen, but you still took action. Luck only takes success so far. You led your team along the path to success, so why are you deflecting?
• Thinking of your resume.
Consider what you’ve achieved as a leader and how your leadership helped your team succeed; this is what you should be proud to put on your resume. Downplaying your abilities doesn’t do anyone any favors.
• Telling people.
Whether you share your accomplishments or your learnings, just start telling people. Trust that people want to know what you’re doing. Plus, a happy side effect to sharing is that this helps you get clear on where you want to go next.
• Working with imposter feelings.
Acknowledge that maybe someone could have done something better or different than you did — but they didn’t. You did it. You’re the one who did what needed to be done. Even if this is you not believing in your skills as a leader, you were given the role as leader and you accepted. The role would not have been offered to you if you didn’t have leadership skills.
• Getting specific.
If a simple “thank you” doesn’t sit well with you, then be specific about the parts both you and your team played in a success. If you asked questions of your team, talk about how this encouraged your people to get curious and find a solution. This is just as important as finding the solution itself.
• Giving positive feedback to others.
Notice when they deflect credit given. Hold them in their own discomfort and encourage them to say thank you. Focus on helping others on their journey and you’ll see in them what you need to work on in yourself.
To begin accepting credit, you must first choose to own your part in your team’s success. You’re not going to start accepting credit and growing your confidence in yourself unless you make the choice to do so. The crux is about choosing to own your wins; the rest is just tactics.
Imagine what impact you can have when you start to accept your earned credit.