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How to properly distribute credit

Hello everyone,


Today I was present at a meeting with our comittee of resident physicians together with the committee of attending physicians (the upper hierarchical layer). The goal was to share our challenges and find in what way we could work together. I did the presentation and the members of our commitee presented their project (including me). We identified common projects and found steps to take. It was very fruitful.

At the end one of the attending physicians said:

"It was a great initiative" (to meet up together)

To which I answered:

"Teamwork!" (with a genuine warm smile)


My intention was to distribute the credit as I don't care to get the credit. I want things to progress. It's not about me.

My mistake was not to acknowledge my part. Learning from Lucio (acknowledging compliment from a higher up in an email). I think it would have been better to say:

"Thank you! Teamwork!" (with a genuine warm smile)

I was also not at ease since I did not remember if it was one of my attending colleague or me who had the idea first. I proposed and organized the meeting, true. However, I really think it was teamwork and I'm not even 100% sure I had the idea.

Happy to read your thoughts.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Yes, good analysis John.

Even potentially better:

Yes! <---- agrees and aligns

"Thank you! It was a good and productive teamwork!" (with a genuine warm smile)

However, I may have skipped "teamwork" completely.

It may feel like virtue signaling and indirectly one-upping him.
As in "look at me, showing you the selfless traits that really matter". The one-up is because he didn't say it initially, so it's a bit like "here's me being a better leader and fixing it for you and reminding you and everyone else what truly matters".

Generally speaking, as the organizer and/or leader it's good to be a bit more careful about teamwork threads as they can feel manipulative -as in the CEO who reminds a bit too often employees that you're all a team. And people may start remembering that the CEO earns 100x more and profits 1000x more when then team's/company bottom line increases.

Ali Scarlett, John Freeman and Bel have reacted to this post.
Ali ScarlettJohn FreemanBel
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Hello Lucio,

thank you very much for your answer.

My mistake was bigger than I thought. It was one-upping indeed. What you wrote is what I felt and what I sub-communicated.

I want the leadership at our hospital to become more positive, benevolent and democratic. So I think I went overboard with trying to be an example of that, going into “I’m going to show you how it’s done” territory.

That’s an important lesson for me.


Lucio Buffalmano and Ali Scarlett have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoAli Scarlett

Cheers John, as usual, my feeling was just reading a message, you were there and know better.

If you felt something similar, chances are it might be the case.

However, it's really good when you can look back and revisit your own feelings: it means that the right "feel" is already in place, and it's more a case of listening more to it, and adjusting.

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman
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Yeah I felt it so your description is definitely accurate. Totally agree with going from feeling to listening to the feeling to change of behavior.

I will write her a short email to apologize as not to leave a bad taste in her mouth for interacting with me/giving me a compliment. Not too thread expanding but allowing a closure.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

This is a very interesting case study.

I had the same feeling when I read about the "Teamwork" comment - and Lucio's analysis on it is extremely helpful for me as well.

I find I also, personally, would not apologize for this. To me it would feel too much given the really really slight one-upping in the comment, and the work setting also discourages apologizing. So I would address it simply as a matter of fact by correcting the behavior in future occasions; or by writing an email just thanking her, without the apologizing.

Lucio Buffalmano, Ali Scarlett and John Freeman have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoAli ScarlettJohn Freeman

Yes, very interesting case study indeed, and I agree that I wouldn't necessarily send an email.

If it was small enough as it seems to be, I wouldn't personally send one.

However, it's not necessarily a bad move.

I had started writing a post telling John as much but then canceled it because:

  • It's possible to send such an email and make a good impression
  • Some types of personalities would appreciate that email
  • If the physicians deeply disliked the move, then the email can be good
Ali Scarlett, John Freeman and Bel have reacted to this post.
Ali ScarlettJohn FreemanBel
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Hello Lucio and Bel,

thank you very much!

What happened is after that they were going their way and I said goodbye again with a warm smile and they responded in a similar fashion. So I think it was not interpreted too negatively. So based on your feed-backs I think the email is therefore not necessary and I won't send it.


Lucio Buffalmano and Bel have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoBel
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