Monday, January 23, 2017
Is it ethical to take credit for good work done by your predecessor or your team ?
A: When he took on the new role in the highly visible company, he knew that he will have to put in some effort to fill in the gap left by his predecessor; the company was one of the pioneers in their industry and had taken good steps towards retaining their leadership position. The new CIO with impeccable pedigree was excited to take on the new assignment that was expected to bring great opportunities to excel. He launched into the new company full of enthusiasm and quickly aligned the team to his ethos and way of working.
As he settled into the position, work done over the last year began to show signs of fruition; the industry wanted to write about the success, publish case studies, requests for which were redirected to project owners to engage and provide the requisite details. At the same time he pushed the pace of innovation and work thus propelling the enterprise into newer waters, claiming success often. Skillfully he continued to sidestep requests for sound bites, media coverage and interviews where his contributions were limited to shepherding.
In management meetings he requested his colleagues to help in maintaining continuity and present along with him; he also brought along teammates to provide on-the-ground view of reality. The latter he practiced for new projects too with the rationale that the team best presented practical challenges and real life issues while he fully owned the project and was responsible and accountable for challenges if any. He wanted to instill a sense of pride to the team members as they presented to the powers that be.
Z: She came on board as the incumbent left to pursue entrepreneurial interests; she did not know the industry, a reality not different from the one faced by the CIO in A. Her new company too had a large number of initiatives that had progressed well and were in various stages of completion. The team aligned to her way of working – quite different from their earlier experiences. Coming from an unrelated industry where she had spent her entire professional life, her uncommunicative stance evoked paparazzi curiosity.
She shunned the external media and also cast an unfriendly eye on her team almost putting to stop completely any connect with the world outside – a diagrammatically opposite of the recent past. She was unable to make significant headway with new initiatives with her team with her demeanor and ability to gain the trust of her team. Reciprocally she trusted no one and played the lone ranger, preferring to attend meetings alone, which initially surprised the team until they realized the reason for the behavior.
In her desire to prove her mettle and look good in the eyes of the management, she purposely painted a bleak picture of the past casting aspersions on the team ability as well as the departed leader whose position she now occupied. Positioning herself as the manna from heaven to the rescue of the enterprise, she almost convinced her audience that the situation was grim and she will overcome the challenges with grim determination and hard work and a bit of help from the team who let this happen in the first place.
She created a false sense of urgency and fear to paint a picture au contraire and then step by step proceeded to take credit for remediating the situation. Wherever her team completed a task or achieved a milestone, she dramatized the event and presented to the management projecting herself as indispensable and critical. As a result she alienated a large part of her team in her own insecurities who slowly started departing for greener pastures. Remember the maxim ? People join companies, they leave their bosses !
Between A and Z, they represent two ends of the spectrum: one focused on team and works to empower them and help their confidence; the other self-centered, stifling the team, their work and achievements. Most will choose to be on the side of A and profess that the behaviors outlined are what they practice with their teams. At the other end Z by virtue of the inability to lead has taken the extreme step of isolating herself and living a self-created bubble which can burst anytime leaving her pantomime exposed.
Success is rarely illegitimate, it has many fathers; people do see through facades eventually, be prepared to face the consequences when it happens.