A young aspiring professional called me up early morning today. He looked very much worked up. When I asked him for the reasons for his anxiety, he explained how some of his seniors were taking away all the credit for the hard work he puts in at work every day.
This is not an uncommon situation especially for youngsters starting their career in an organisation. Interestingly, you see and experience this phenomenon in all professions. Today, it is easy for me to write about it and share my views. When I went through the same experience, it was one of the biggest challenges at the beginning of my career.
When you experience it as a young professional, you feel betrayed. You feel frustrated and sometimes feel like bashing up the senior who takes away all the credit for your hard work. As you grow up in the organisation , you realise that you are not alone to face this type of challenge. It is faced by many and almost in all professions. A senior lawyer may win a case based on the arguments and efforts of his junior and take all the credit for the victory. A senior doctor may do the same while treating a patient.
In organisations, we see senior leaders taking the credit for presentations made to other stakeholders, which were never prepared by them. Sometimes, they take the credit for articles never written by them. While it makes you feel bad, it is not uncommon to say the least.
The question is how do you deal with it in your career, when it happens to you. At the first instance, it may be a good idea to vent out your feelings to someone near and dear to you. This may make you feel lighter and better after this bitten experience in your career.
Then you need to settle down and realise that you are not alone. It is important not to get distracted by such phenomenon. I remember an incident when a senior of mine tried to present my case in front of the Chief Executive in one of the organisations I worked. He was trying to take the credit for my work in front of the CEO. However, when the CEO asked a few clarifications on the case, he had to call me in and he was embarrassed when the CEO asked if I had prepared the case.
We always need to believe that “Excellence” is a journey and never a destination. The leaders who try to take the credit for the work of their juniors have limitations and they do expose their limitations by such frivolous behaviour. They get exposed sooner than later when they make this a habit to take credit for others ‘ work.
As I said earlier, it is not easy to deal with a situation like this especially when you experience this yourself in the beginning of your career. As you grow up in your career, you realise that people can take credit for your work but can never take away your value to the organisation. Each individual brings a certain value and this can never be stolen by others.
This nature of some leaders to take credit for others’ work reflects their limitation rather than yours. They get exposed sooner than later in front of other employees or other stakeholders. One does not need to put in any extra efforts to expose them since they expose themselves because of the lack of depth in the subject they take credit for others’ work. Of course, the time taken for them to be exposed may vary and this could add to the frustration of employees. But my experience teaches me that it happens sooner than you believe as long as you are willing to always give your best and let them expose themselves in the process.
As in the photo above, while a captain can take away the credit for his team’s victory, everybody in the team and even the spectators know who deserves the credit for that win.
I would continue to focus on excellence and let these impostors expose themselves rather than waste my energy and time trying to figure out why they do so. I would want to focus on my strengths rather than their weaknesses.
Let us always remember that “Mediocrity will never recognise Excellence”.
S Ramesh Shankar
27th May 2020