Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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True Leaders Know The Value of Acknowledging Others

A friend once told me about a time when someone she worked with used her material without giving her credit.
This friend is very insightful and has a remarkable way of composing and expressing her thoughts. And she saw evidence of her work used without mention of her name! Worse yet, when her work was used and presented, it was hidden from her – as if to ensure she did not see it and could not call out the unfairness.

My friend was disturbed by the incident and asked how I thought she should respond.
Upon reading this story, you might have thought: This happens often! And it happened to a coworker at my last company. Or perhaps you thought: Does Aké mysteriously know what I have been dealing with at my job? Because this very thing happened to me last week!

If you had either reaction, that is not surprising. Because while we might wish to believe such incidents are rare, they are unfortunately common in work situations! Indeed, at various moments in my 20+ year career, I have noticed instances where others used the ideas, concepts, and products that others created without acknowledgment or permission! And this led me to wonder why this negative behavior is so frequent in the workplace. And why humans sometimes struggle to give others credit. Upon further study and discussions, a commonality I noticed was acknowledging others requires humility and confidence. And these are two essential elements that enable humans to learn from others.

Also, humility and confidence are qualities that most of us would like to believe we have but might not put in the effort to build. And this is a vital realization because, in the absence of humility and confidence, one could engage in the damaging behavior of taking what others provide without giving them credit. And this behavior depletes motivation and stalls progress in an organization!

Remember how I shared earlier that my friend asked me how she should respond to the situation where her colleague used her work without acknowledgment? Well, how would you respond?
In these situations, one could react in many different ways. – We could confront the guilty person and expose their unjust acts. Or we could pay them back by improperly using their work. Or perhaps, we could take a completely different route and not do or say anything. With so many potential responses, the solution to dealing with such a dilemma is not so obvious. And it requires discernment!

Well, here is what I shared with my friend in response to her question about how to address her situation:

There is a universal concept at play here! – While one might steal a piece of gold today, they will eventually run out of gold if they do not connect to the source – the gold mine. You are the source. Because what you offer – the creativity, intuition, and concepts are from you.
And the reality is that others can steal a moment of greatness. But if greatness does not come from within, they will not know how to replicate it. And their great moments will not last. As you make your decision, consider this.

Next, I shared a story with my friend about a moment in my youth when I learned this lesson. Let me share it with you! One of my favorite classes in High School was Art History. And even though I did not fully appreciate it then, studying Art History in Rome, Italy, was a privilege because of the plethora of artwork in all corners of the city. And my class often went on field trips!
During some of these trips, my teacher pointed out fake replicas of notable works of art. Also, she taught us to distinguish a masterpiece from a fake one. – Memorably, she also impressed upon us the value of honesty by helping us understand that artists who copied but didn’t learn were bound to have short-term bouts of success. Because, to create, they needed to replicate. – And because they were incapable of creating a great art piece on their own, they were forever reliant on the originator creating another masterpiece for them to copy. – And this is not a formula for long-term success!

Now you might ask: Most of us don’t build our careers on works of art today, so how is this relevant to me? – This is relevant today because using, taking, and misappropriating others’ work happens around us, across all industries ranging from Electronics to Tourism. But great leaders know that a great company cannot build enduring success by merely copying from its competitors. Indeed, like great artists, true leaders know that greatness lies in the effective synchronicity of originality and learning. And continuous learning abounds in organizations where talent is capable and driven to collaborate with others. And this is enabled by acknowledging others and giving them credit for doing great work.

May we acknowledge others for their contributions!

For you and to you,




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