Take the blame, not the credit.

When a problem happens, I try to be the first to take the blame.
When something great gets done, I try to give credit to others.

Handshake

Everyone seems to want the recognition and respect that comes with taking the credit for good work. I’ve found that I’d much rather give that credit to others who were involved.

What do you get when you take the credit? Respect, thanks, and appreciation. This makes you feel great and can be addictive, but it’s also fleeting. If you’re not able to show a pattern of success then the thought may become, “What have you done for me lately?”

But what happens when you give the credit to others? You foster respect between yourself and your coworkers. People would much rather work with someone who shares the glory instead of hogging it for themselves. You should take every opportunity you can to foster respect amongst the team and increase team morale and collaboration. This goal only increases as your authority increases.

The bonds that you form by sharing the credit with your coworkers will pay off long term, and long term benefits should be much more desirable than short term gain. This is assuming that you have a pattern of success, if instead you have a pattern of failure you should probably look at getting some of that short term gain since you may have some issues with your reputation.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ever take credit for your work. When someone steps in and passes the credit back to you, be thankful and accept it. It can look bad on you if you continue to pass the buck. As well, if you are working solo on a project — truly solo — accept the credit, since there’s no one with whom to reasonably share it.

On the other hand, taking the blame is not as bad as it sounds on paper.

Part of the issue is that the word “blame” has a negative connotation. You hear it and imagine that everyone believes that all the ills of the world are your fault, regardless of the root cause of the issue. The reality is that the blame is not important. What is actually important is that the issues get fixed. A lot of time time is wasted by people playing the blame game and the people that suffer are our customers. Instead, take responsibility for issues that arise.

Taking the responsibility does not mean that you are awful at what you do, instead it means that you will take charge of the situation and coordinate its resolution. You should be pumped about this. Taking responsibility fosters respect in the same way as giving away the credit. Many people avoid taking responsibility for their actions and their resolution. It is such a breath of fresh air when it happens that people will sit up and take notice, especially when it becomes a pattern of behavior.

People are likely to notice a pattern when you are involved with many successful projects and bug fixes. Humans are excellent at pattern recognition and will be able to put two and two together without your help.

Next time, think twice before you jump up to take credit for success, or want to get involved in the blame game.

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