Are you giving yourself too much credit?

July 8, 2011

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) for a visit to Dayton’s Bluff Achievement Plus Elementary School in St. Paul on Tuesday, May 31. I sat in the first row with my wife Chris and was fascinated to watch the difference between how the two men, who are extremely capable, chose to bestow credit.

Sen. Franken rattled off a lot of names when speaking of those involved with educational reform and trying to close the achievement gap, but it felt like he was doing it out of obligation–perhaps because he didn’t go into much detail about the work any one of them did. By contrast, Sen. Franken spoke a lot about his role and, in doing so, conveyed a desire to assume much of the credit.

Sec. Duncan seemed much more sincere about his appreciation for the work of others. He made it clear that his responsibility was to lead others and to hold them responsible for the outcomes they achieved. As a result, it didn’t feel like he was taking credit for the work they had done. He told the audience that he couldn’t solve the problems that remain (that only a nation could do that), but that he would continue to work hard with others.

How do you bestow credit, and how sincere do you come across in the process?

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