How To Fix “It Doesn’t Matter Who Gets The Credit”

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You can’t build a great team, if you don’t know who keeps coming up with all those great ideas.

As a leader, you need to know who your big idea generators are.

And one of the biggest reasons so many leaders fail to identify their top idea people is because of misunderstanding the phrase, “Just think of what our team can accomplish if no one cares who gets the credit!”

That quote is usually attributed to President Harry Truman.

While the core sentiment of the quote is noble enough, this idea is often misunderstood. The quote, properly understood, is intended to underscore the value of humble, team-first leadership. But misunderstood, it can deprive you of a vital piece of leadership information. 

Some people believe that “it doesn’t matter who gets the credit” means that you should not pay attention to, or even be made aware of, those who are really delivering outstanding performance. “After all,” it can be thought, “It doesn’t matter who gets the credit on our team…”

If you have interpreted “it doesn’t matter who gets the credit” to mean that individual recognition is not a good thing, step back and ask yourself these questions:

Do I know who is generating our best ideas?

Do I know who is launching our most successful initiatives?

Do I know who is producing the most results?

Do I know who is the most encouraging person on our team?

Do I know who is going out of their way to support their teammates’ projects?

If you do, give them the credit.

Otherwise, if you continue to misapply the “it doesn’t matter who gets the credit” sentiment, you will face an enormous leadership shortcoming; you will be unable to identify your key contributors.

So, no matter how noble the statement sounds, don’t misunderstand or misapply the notion that “it doesn’t matter who gets the credit”. Embrace the knowledge of the relative strengths of your team.

The whole team will ultimately benefit if credit is given where credit is due.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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