If your boss steals your success

It’s your boss’s job to empower the people in his team and to help them be the best they can. We all know that, and probably he does too. This means that he also needs to give you all the credit for your success and make it visible to the world. And yet there are so many bosses that steal the achievements of their team.

Apparently bosses need to claim the success of their team to score with their own boss or with external people, or maybe with the team itself. But it’s a very unfair game to play, and very painful for the people who have done the real work.

This happens a lot, even with bosses who otherwise do a very good job. It looks like the pressure on managers to achieve is enormous.

Here are a few things you can do, if your boss steals your success.

1. Accept that this might be in your own interest

It’s unbearable when your boss passes off your success as his own, but it can be also beneficial:

  • Your boss relies heavily on you. He really needs you to succeed so he can show off.

  • Deep down your boss knows that this is not OK. This means he owes you, and that might not be a bad position to be in.

You can choose to ignore your frustration, however hard that will be, and just let this happen. It could strengthen your position.

2. Be smarter than your boss

If you know this is how your boss behaves, be smarter than him. Make sure that everybody knows what you are working on.

  • Send emails not just to him, but also to other relevant people

  • Talk a lot to people about what you are working on, in meetings , and in little chats at the coffee machine or virtually

  • Show parts of your work in presentations or informally.

  • Discuss challenges in your work with others

3. Call your boss out on it

This one is a bit of a leap in the dark, but sometimes it is really necessary to show your teeth. Prepare this conversation well, find a suitable moment and go for it. Tell him that it’s OK to use your work - that’s the whole point of him hiring you - but that he should give you the credit for it. Chances are he will be shocked and embarrassed, but he will respect you more, and will never steal your success again.


Tips in a blog can be a good start, if you have a difficult boss. But coaching can make a deep and long lasting difference in your life. Did you recognise yourself in this blog? I coach people with difficult bosses and other work problems. Why not have a look a www.fromsurvivingtothriving.nl or www.fromsurvivingtothriving.co.uk and get in touch for a free taster session?

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