Are You Giving Credit To The Thunder Or The Lightning


  • Author Luke Crane
  • Published January 13, 2020
  • Word count 533

The thunder is good, the thunder is impressive; but it is lighting that does the work.

— Mark Twain

When you were a kid, were you afraid of thunder? I know I was. Crazy that we are scared of a sound. It is so big and loud! I remember the first time I found out that the sound of thunder is actually the air that expands rapidly from the heat of a lightning. It moves the air so fast that it causes an audible vibration for miles and miles. Crazy right? The thunder is a byproduct of lightning. It is heard, even when lightning is not seen!

As a leader, you will need to discern the difference between the outcome of a win and the cause of the win. Much like the thunder, wins can be deceptive. Some wins can even put you in the spotlight. In those cases, it is important to give credit where it is due.

Giving credit to others is harder for some and easier for others. Let’s be completely honest, we all enjoy a little time in the spotlight. As a leader, you job is not to soak in the spotlight, but to move the light to those who did the work to get the result.

Remember: "We go before ego!"


Make it honest.

*Everyone can see from a mile away when you are going through the motions of giving credit. We have all heard phrases like, "It was a true team effort" and "I couldn’t have done it without my team." These aren’t bad necessarily if they come from the heart, but if you are just going through the motions, it will cause more harm than good.

*Part of honesty is giving the credit to the right people. Nothing will hurt a team culture more than giving credit to someone you "think" did the work, but in reality it was someone else. Take the time to do your research. If someone does not deserve credit… don’t give it to them!

Make it specific.

*This is similar to feedback. When you are giving credit, don’t make it general. It will be far more impactful if you give the concrete examples. An example might look like this. "John is the one who carried the team on this project. Without his expertise in XYZ we would still be on step one."

Make it important.

  • When you give credit, make it a big deal. Don’t give credit in private and take the praise in public. Make it a big deal. If possible, hold a celebration for the win and give credit there.

  • This has another important outcome. Others who did not get credit will see that good work is recognized and it will inspire them. Some might feel they deserved credit and come and talk to you about it. What a great opportunity for constructive feedback and growth!


Have you considered you might be giving credit to the wrong person?

Do you like the spotlight a little too much?

Write out 3 people you can give credit to this week and go do it!

Luke Crane is the Owner of Leadership Cohort (, a leadership coaching, training and speaking group that focuses on sharpening mid/entry level leaders for the next level.

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