Quietly revel in your success

We’ve all seen it: the leader who takes all the credit for success and doesn’t deflect any of it to the people who did the hard daily work to get there. Maybe you have been subjected to that leader who brags and lays claim to all that’s been achieved without recognizing the good hard work you put in. It’s not a great feeling. In fact, it’s enough to cause loss of enthusiasm and engagement.

Everyone knows what this puffed-up leader has and hasn’t done. And everyone sees that person grabbing the credit. Taking all the glory for success is demoralizing and causes distrust toward the leader from the team and other stakeholders.

When your team has success, it’s okay to personally feel good about it and quietly revel in it, because you are a leader and you guided them to that victory. It isn’t okay to claim all of the credit; give it away to those who deserve it.

Instead of blowing your own horn, this is what you could do:

Let success speak for itself because it will. Bragging about yourself and how you led your team to magnificence will only make others resent you. Stay humble and avoid talking about what you did. Instead, deflect praise to the people who worked day in and out to achieve victory.  

Tell your team know how proud you are of them and be specific in your praise. What exactly did they do to make this happen? Be specific about their actions so that they can learn and take in what they did – and repeat it next time. Besides, it will feel good to sincerely let your team know what they’ve done well.

Celebrate together as a team to make it clear that you know they worked together and succeeded to accomplish the work required to reach that Big Hairy Audacious Goal (even it’s a smaller goal than that). Go offsite, talk about what went well, have a good meal together, and enjoy the time to discuss what’s been created as a team.

Make sure others know how delighted you are about your team’s success. When you hear others congratulating you on YOUR success, make sure they are clear that your team did the work and you simply guided them, because that is the truth. You really couldn’t have done this alone.

That’s all you need to do. Everyone already knows you are the leader who led the team to triumph. And because your actions speak louder than your words ever will, others know your role in that success. Nothing else needs to be said or done.

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

2 comments on “Quietly revel in your success

  1. I cannot agree with you more. I have a boss who constantly downplays the work of his staff that creates incredible results that he gets to have under his accomplishments. It has not led to a happy staff. In private, he will tell you how great you are, but in public, he is very condescending. As expected, when things do not go well, he will call you out by name and throw you under the bus. It’s a very frustrating work environment. I suppose it is my example of what not to do when and if, I am a future leader of a team.

  2. M – Working for a leader of his demeanor seems to provide you with some learning that will serve you well when you are leading a team – and although you may feel discomfort in his style, it’s a great “laboratory” for you to learn from. I’ve found myself that I learned as much from the bad managers I worked with as with the good ones! So keep observing others and defining the leader you want to be. It will serve you well in the future.

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