Here’s a simple tip for managers who are looking to inspire their teams to perform their best, to bring their most creative ideas and offer the best solutions:

Don’t take credit when presenting those ideas or solutions to clients or others.

It’s that simple.

Early on in my time as a manager the realization struck me that using “we” instead of “I” was much fairer to those on my team.

So the email to the client following our brainstorming became “We thought…” instead of “I thought…” That way the credit was spread around to everyone who had participated and the client saw I wasn’t the end-all-be-all, the only person they could ever turn to if they had issues to be addressed or questions to be answered.

The exception to that rule is, of course, when something goes badly. In those instances the responsibility was all mine.

Ultimately that’s true. We might all have contributed to the idea, but as manager I was the one who greenlit it as being ready for presenting to the client. If anyone was going to be falling on a sword, it was going to be me.

When things are good, you as a manager should step to the side and draw everyone’s attention to those behind you. When things are bad, you as a manager should step in front of those behind you and refuse to move, taking the brunt of whatever’s coming yourself.

Those are the kind of behaviors that inspire loyalty not just in this job but years down the road.