Tag Archives: Marhsall Goldsmith

Claim Jumper

Claim Jumper

By the early 1850s, the California gold rush had attracted a less desirable crowd made up of crooks, bandits, gamblers and claim jumpers.  They were all there to take advantage of the wealth being discovered.  Laws were non-existent as California wasn’t a state yet.  When a prospector found gold, he was immediately surrounded by other prospectors.  Claim laws had to be established.  In some camps, a claim was only 10 square feet, with each person allowed one claim.  Claims offices were established to patrol mines and settle disputes.  Taking someone else’s claim, or “claim jumping,” was common, most often followed by violence.  Law and order was most often in the hands of the people.  No one appreciated one person staking a claim on land that wasn’t theirs.


When a person in a leadership position claims credit that she doesn’t deserve, that’s a modern form of claim jumping, and, just like the gold rush days, no one appreciates it.  On top of that, taking credit for someone else’s work means whoever deserved recognition isn’t getting it; a double whammy!

Sometimes it’s easy to determine if someone is taking credit for someone else’s work, and sometimes it isn’t.  Once I participated in a brain storming session to come up with a name for a new service.  I would have bet $1,000 that the name selected was my idea, but I wasn’t given credit for it, someone else was.  At a minimum, I know I contributed to the name selected and so did everyone else in the room.  Brainstorming by its nature builds on all the ideas thrown out and is a collaborative effort.

Just imagine what a team could accomplish if no one cares who gets the credit.  No one would be protective of “their” idea.  No one would withhold ideas.  Everyone would be aligned to achieve the team’s objective so that the team would get the credit.

Claiming credit not deserved is on Marshall Goldsmith’s list of habits that hold you back.  Marshall recommends that to stop being a credit hog, do the opposite, share the credit.  For one day, write down and keep a list of every time you congratulate yourself on an achievement regardless how big or small it is.  Once you have your list, look at everything on your list and ask yourself, is there any possible way that someone else might deserve the credit for “your” achievement.  Ask yourself this question as you go through your list:  If any of the other people involved in this were looking at this same list, would they give you as much credit as you are claiming for yourself?  Would they give credit to someone else?  The most effective leaders aren’t claim jumpers.

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By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

I was excited to share what I had just learned with the leadership team.  Market intelligence can be difficult to come by; it can also be very valuable.  I had just learned that a major competitor had a major chink in the armor that just might open the door to a large account that had never acknowledged us.  I sent an email to everyone on the leadership team, summarizing all the details, proofreading it three times, even attaching a link to a press release for further support of the information I was sharing.  The CEO responded with at best a lukewarm response that the information might be a factor to consider.  One week later on a conference call, the CEO enthusiastically recited the exact same information that I had provided in my email, the only difference being that he credited the source as an individual from another company he had spoken with the day before.  I was not recognized nor acknowledged for providing any of the information.  Depriving proper recognition makes others feel forgotten, ignored, or pushed to the side.  Depriving recognition ignites the feeling of resent.  That’s how I felt, ignored and resentful.


I’m sure I have done the same thing to others, most leaders have.  Too often leaders find themselves too busy or do not realize how important it is to recognize another.  Effective leaders realize the importance of recognition and make time to focus on others, to focus on providing recognition.

Marshall Goldsmith offers a four step process for improving on providing recognition:

  1. Make a list of all the important groups of people in your life including friends, family, direct reports, customers, etc.
  2. Write down the names of every important person in each group.
  3. Set aside time twice a week to review the list of names and ask yourself if any of them did something that you should recognize.
  4. If the answer is “yes,” provide recognition via phone, email, voice mail, or a note. If the answer is “no,” do nothing; you don’t want to come across as a phony.

People who experience the sting of no recognition tend to feel its effects a long time.  Effective leaders understand the importance of proper recognition and make it a habit.

To subscribe to Bill’s blog visit www.BillAuxier.com.

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