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Winning With People Lesson #9: Pass the Credit onto Others

people development Oct 28, 2019

Rarely do we get an opportunity to say thank you to the people who help us, especially in a public setting. When you do, you should make the most of it. If you have accomplished anything significant in life, you know that it was not a solo effort. 

When you take the time to acknowledge those that helped you achieve any goal or initiative, or bring success to the organization you currently lead, it makes two people feel better. The recipient, and yourself. 

I have found that the number one reason people do not pass along credit to others is they somehow think it will hurt them or lessen their value. This is a sure sign of insecurity. You cannot practice this winning with people principle if you cannot set your ego aside. 

Don’t Wait - Pass the Credit ASAP: When asked about giving credit to teammates legendary college basketball coach John Wooden shared that he would teach his players to look and give a smile or nod to the player who passed them the ball before they scored. When he was asked, “what if they are not looking?” Wooden replied, “I guarantee he’ll look.” Everyone enjoys having their contribution acknowledged. 

Here are three ways in which to live the Winning With People principle; pass the credit to others: 

Say It In Front of Others: When you give credit to others in front of their peers and loved ones, the value of your compliment multiplies. I failed at this principle many times in my life, but none was more embarrassing that when I have the opportunity to share a thank you at my Doctoral Graduation reception in 2011. My father had traveled a few hundred miles to be there for the event. It was the first time he had ever come to any of my graduation events and I made sure the folks in the room knew he was there. Sitting next to him was my wife Jennifer. She had sacrificed hundreds of hours for me, raising our daughter alone some nights as I worked on my dissertation research. When my talk was over I took one step away from the podium and my dissertation chair gave me “that look” and said, don’t forget your wife. It was too late, the damage was done. Not a moment goes by that I don’t think of that and if you have heard me speak live since then you have probably seen a picture of my family and heard me acknowledge that I wouldn’t be able to do any of this work without her. 

Put it in Print: When you give people credit verbally, you uplift them for a moment. If you can put it in writing, you have the potential to uplift them for a lifetime. I shared recently that I still have cards and post-it notes from my teaching days (2000 - 2007) recognizing accomplishments as a teacher or thank you notes from colleagues. Whenever I come across that box I take a read through and remember how those words at that time was the difference maker for me. One in particular was from the Exceptional Children’s Department Director of New Hanover County, Bill Trant, when I received my National Boards. It was white with a gold frame and his handwriting had a very classic look, also like he would have written the Constitution. Mr. Trant was critical to my growth not only as a teacher but as a person. He never curbed my enthusiasm but always had the right words and demeanor to help me redirect my passion to help the organization grow. 

Here is my chance to acknowledge a few more: 

David Scarletto: David assisted me in training for my first half-marathon in 2005 (NC Battleship). David is a triathlete who could run circles around me but he slowed his own pace by many minutes and hung with me every step of the way. We crossed the finish line together. I don’t think I have ever slowed down for anyone. He has taught me a great deal over our almost 15 years of friendship. Running the half-marathon was great, but what I really appreciate David for is during my recovery, when I had to make the long trip for my Gamblers Anonymous meetings on a Friday night, David would make sure I did not make an excuse and I went. I am blessed to have him in my life. 

Darrell Allison: Darrell was the President of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) when I first started my company, Leaders Building Leaders. Even though we had never met before, Darrell offered me the Director position of the North Carolina Public Charter School Accelerator program. An initiative to assist the growth of public charter schools in rural and underserved areas. Over four years we assisted 14 charter schools in opening and provided a half-a-million dollars in grant funds to accelerate their programming. It provided me a platform and opportunity to build a program from scratch. Many of those ideas and programs we incubated in the Accelerator are impacting school leaders all across the country now. I don’t think my business would be where it is now if it wasn’t for Darrell’s trust and vision. 

Only Say it If You Mean it: It may seem obvious, but you should never say something you don’t believe just to uplift someone. You will not make people feel good as it will your lack of authenticity will show. When you pass credit on, you need to do it from the heart. 

Winning with people is a choice. Give that emotional stamp to someone this week who has earned it. It will change not only their life, but yours!

 To apply John Maxwell’s teaching in your life…

Forget about: Your ego. Focus on the people around you and the credit they deserve. 

Ask: Who has made me more successful than I would have been on my own?

Do it: Publicly pass along credit for a successful endeavor to as many people as you can. 

Remember: If each of us were to confess our most secret desire, we would say: “I want to be praised.”

This post was written by Dr. Thomas Miller. Founder of Leaders Building Leaders and Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team, based on the leadership principles of John Maxwell and book 25 Ways to Win With People. Would you like John’s principles brought to your organization? Click here to find out how you can bring a complementary, highly engaging and impactful leadership lessons to your team.

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