Service of Taking All the Credit: When Your Boss is a Glory Hog

December 13th, 2018

Categories: Boss, Credit, Glory, Office, Stealing


I recently wrote about humble bosses. This post is about a different kind.

Many bosses don’t realize—or don’t care–that they are doing themselves a disservice in the long run to take credit for or steal their staffers’ ideas. It doesn’t cost anything to give due credit but some can’t help themselves. That was the topic of Sue Shellenbarger’s article in The Wall Street Journal, “Hey, That’s My Idea! When Your Boss Steals Your Work.”

Eventually, the people who report to such a superior ask for a transfer, leave the company or save their ideas, divulging them only at an opportune moment, such as when they walk out of the office with the boss’s boss or when they substitute for the boss at a meeting.

A close cousin of this behavior is what has happened to women in meetings for generations and still does. They’ll propose an idea, nobody reacts and a few minutes later a man makes the same suggestion. At this point the team leader goes bonkers with praise and the strategy is added to the “to do” list. Joanne Lipman, author of “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together,” addresses it.


If you’re chairman of a volunteer committee and you pull either stunt you’ll eventually find yourself to be a committee of one.

How have you handled a credit-grabbing boss? Have you manipulated such a boss into proposing something that benefited you? Do you think it’s the boss’s prerogative to take all the credit for a good idea as he/she would be given the blame should a project in the department go south?



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4 Responses to “Service of Taking All the Credit: When Your Boss is a Glory Hog”

  1. EAM Said:

    In one of my first experiences in publishing, I attended a meeting with the entire department. I made a suggestion in the meeting. My 24-year old self asked my boss what she thought of my idea/suggestion. She told me I shouldn’t speak up in meetings because it only gave others the chance to look at her as to why she hadn’t thought of the idea first! Insecurity comes in many forms- I find that women, in particular, try to freeze out other women, so that they can shine the light on themselves. It’s not a flattering look.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    This instance is the opposite of the topic at hand. I was responsible for a client at an agency I worked for and just before attending a marketing meeting with this client the agency owners, who were also attending, told me not to say a word. [They were not women.] I had to speak up at one point because I knew that I couldn’t implement one of the [terrible] ideas they proposed–I was jeopardizing my work life by doing that but the alternative would be to jeopardize my reputation. The idea was preposterous and wouldn’t have gotten off the ground. What happened? The client told the owners that they would leave the agency if I didn’t run their program. Whew! Uncomfortable nevertheless.

  3. Protius Said:

    I couldn’t agree with you more about bosses who grab all the credit when things go right, and although you don’t write this, are usually nowhere to be found when they go wrong.

    There is only one thing worse, and it is rare when this happens, but it does, that is the super dynamic boss who has read too many management books and, to look good to his bosses, spread too much credit downwards to subordinates that didn’t earn it.

    This kind of manipulation just breeds cynicism and distrust.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Also on the BAD list for bosses are those who take out their anger on their reports, tossing furniture, screaming and yelling at the drop of a hat and all the time. I’d almost rather deal with one that takes all the credit.

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