In any endeavor, there is always credit to be taken or given. A key to getting people to act in a manner you desire (influencing others) is to allow them the opportunity to become The Hero.

Creating heroes happens as you create the opportunity and space for men and women to succeed and then applauding success. It is offering them Teddy Roosevelt’s “arena.”

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic"
Delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910

A good influencer realizes credit is a currency to be given or taken. A great influencer is uses this credit to anoint heroes! You, too, can become a hero maker.


A servant leader gives credits to others and owns the problems. He or she realizes the team is the means to success. Wins seldom come from solo individuals. Here is simple practice. When you have a win, list all the team members who were involved in the initiative. Write down the contribution each one of them made to the win. Identify the hero or heroes of the project and give them credit. This method of empowering and celebrating others builds buy-in and is highly motivating.

Here are some things to consider when giving credit:

Sincerity and Scarcity

This principle says that things are more attractive when their availability is limited. If you insincerely throw out inconsequential and unwarranted flattery all the time, the labeling someone the hero becomes much less valuable. Others won’t rise up to the challenge, because they see your compliments as meaningless. Reward true hero recognition for heroic efforts. This is not to say, you cannot compliment and offer positive feedback, just be reserved on using the hero language.  


When someone is deemed a hero from a person of authority, it carries more weight. There is a reason the highest military medals of honor are awarded by the President of the United States or other high-ranking officers. Even the TV show, Undercover Boss reveals the value of recognition from on high. When the reveal is done and praise is given from a company CEO who worked alongside the employee, the employee often breaks down into tears. Celebrate heroes and heroic moments at the highest level possible. If you are department head, you can make the celebration speech but see if you can get a C-Level executive to be present for key awards.


Involving team members as early as feasible in an endeavor is a good practice. While the save-the-day hero role is important and may be celebrated, the in-from-the-start hero should receive even more praise.  Those who, Teddy Roosevelt says, have a “face…marred by dust and sweat and blood” from involvement early in the process should be most highly honored.

Don’t Celebrate Bystanders

In every super-hero movie, there are bystanders. In business, it is the same. Business by-standers are observers often offering criticism and critique without being engaged or “in the arena,” as Roosevelt states. Even if no outward critique is given, the bystander’s lack of effort and failure to rise to the occasion with professional risk taking is a statement in and of itself. Life isn’t a four-year-old’s soccer league. There are winners and losers in the business arena. If everyone gets the bonus or praise, it becomes meaningless.


Giving a person the opportunity to be the hero is a great way to get them involved in a win. Influencers can sincerely say, “Here is the opportunity. I believe you can make this happen.” Everyone (or almost everyone) loves to be thought of as the get-done-person. When you present an opportunity in this way, you are creating space for them to take initiative and to become the hero. We are hardwired to enjoy helping others, and this statement of praise allows others to see themselves as a capable helper in a positive impact role.

It is important to issue your belief in the person. Many of us are hero-averse  

Mike Dilbeck writes:

I also believe that most of us have a very cynical and resigned relationship to heroism. It may come from a time when we tried to be a hero — to take a heroic action — and it didn't go well or have the effect we needed it to. Or, maybe we wanted to be a hero for someone and never took the actions necessary to make the difference. In those moments we make a decision that we can't be a hero — we don't have what it takes. It was a good idea at the time; however, "I must not be good enough to be a hero." And these decisions have been validated by subsequent events ever since we made them. Actually, the older we are, the more evidence we have gathered to prove them true.  

You, as a leader and influencer, can strongly counter this attitude present in so many team members’ psyche.

Remember to set clear expectations about what a win looks like. This sets the bulls-eye by which the potential hero can gauge his or her efforts. Diverse solutions can be brought to bear upon a challenge because the team member has a clear understanding of the end game. This offers even greater for potential for praise as you celebrate their creativity in achieving the win.


Sometimes, in the guise of humility, we allow clients, customers, or others to think that wins just happened by luck or mysterious coincidence. Stop letting this happen. How do you this? Don’t let opportunities pass without setting the context in which they occurred. Claim hero-ship for your organization!

For example, if you are an advertising agency account executive and an opportunity arises to get extra radio commercials for your client, make sure the client doesn’t think this opportunity just fell into your lap. If you directly negotiated the bonus spots, let them know, “We were able to negotiate 10 free commercials for you this week.” If you were told by the radio station rep of the free commercials, you can still sincerely take credit. Tell your client, “Because of our long-term agency relationship with the radio station, we were given first dibs and able to secure you 10 additional commercials free of charge.”

Not much in the business world happens by random chance. There is typically some force behind every action. Be that force, and when you are, let others know your team was able to make it happen. Note, celebrate the team, not necessarily yourself an individual to those outside your organization. Use “we” language, not “I.”


You have the ability, whether in a position of corner office, highest authority or a cubicle dwelling worker bee of creating hero moments for others and claiming hero status for your organization. Be this positive influencer and watch positive outcomes and other team members rise to the occasion. In the process, your influence will increase, because everyone likes someone that makes him or her feel like a hero. 


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From regional manager to international executive with quadruple the pay, Karen Keller’s unique blueprint carefully outlined the step-by-step process for creating high-impact influence and let me know when I was being influenced in a way that didn’t serve me.
Lloyd Moore
Global Director Supplier Quality & Development - Lear Corporation – South Carolina