We all want it, because it’s the undisputed champion in measuring our professional selves.
We know it’s hard to get, and that’s what makes it all the more satisfying.
We cherish it, because we know what it’s like to fail (because we all do).
So, when it happens, there’s the part of us that wants to strut around like a peacock. I did it! How about that!
Darn I’m good.
Hey, why not celebrate the win? But there’s a catch to this if you are a leader on the road to greatness.
You shouldn’t take the credit.
Because most of it was actually done by somebody else. You “showed them the way” (the definition of a leader), and hooray, they got there.
They deserve the credit. Yes, you played a major role. Yes, if you weren’t involved it might not have happened at all.
But they still DID it.
It takes a lot of humility to step aside when the accolades come, and deflect them elsewhere. A selflessness that puts aside a certain fear – the one that thinks that unless you strut your stuff out there, it won’t be noticed by your bosses when raise, bonus or promotion time comes.
I succumbed to that fear a few times earlier in my career, and fortunately, I had some great mentors that pointed it out to me. I recall writing a self review at at time that I really felt I was being under appreciated, and deserved a promotion.
It was “Peacock Land” – “I did this, I did that, I figured this out, I, I, I, I, I, I …..” – you get the idea.
Thank goodness I was called on it. But I learned.
The other thing that convinced me once and for all that I shouldn’t take the credit was scientific fact.
Yes, my good man Jim Collins figured it all out in my favorite business book of all time, Good to Great.
The leaders of all the “Great” companies all had this humility – they gave the credit to someone else. And it was researched, and documented, many times over.
Because they didn’t DO it. They just showed the way. Collins calls them “Level 5 Leaders” – they’ve taken leadership up another very important notch.
As Teddy Roosevelt said in his famous speech at the Sorbonne in 1910:
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause”
This is a fresh new year. Keep your peacock in the closet, and honor your “men (and women) in the arena“. Greatness will await you, for your team will respond to your selflessness with an even greater desire to make you proud, and start the credit cycle all over again.