Desire for Recognition: A Gender Issue?

Is the desire for recognition more prevalent among women than men? Before I answer this question, let’s take a look at what precipitated the question.


I was having dinner with a woman friend who expressed frustration at having her idea initially ignored, then embraced by a male counterpart only to see her male colleague get credit for the idea. An experience many women have had.

The frustration is understandable, but not uniquely feminine. Over the years I’ve had quite a few of my ideas “stolen” as have other men I’ve known. And we’ve experienced the same frustration. One gender difference may be that men are more inclined to “fight” for the credit they feel they deserve than women are.

Whether that last statement is true or not, the real question is “How important is it that we get the credit we deserve?”

Confidence and Credit

The most confident among us don’t care whether or not they get recognized for the ideas they have. There are two reasons for this mindset.

  1. Confident people, regardless of gender, don’t need others’ recognition to feel good about themselves. They are happy in their own skin. While they appreciate the recognition they get, they don’t crave it. It’s not essential to their well-being or the joy they experience in daily living.
  2. Confident people also realize that pursuing recognition gets in the way of getting the result. You know this from personal experience. If someone is seeking personal recognition, you’re unwilling to help them get it. If, however, they seek a result that benefits others as well as themselves, you’re more than happy to help.

Indeed, the most confident among us realize that the desire for recognition is an obstacle to getting the result.

Recognition: An Obstacle?

Colin Powell, in his autobiography, said “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.”

As indicated above, seeking recognition is almost always counterproductive. People don’t help those whose primary goal is gaining personal recognition. They are happy to help those who seek a result and could care less about who gets credit for the idea.

Confident people, regardless of gender, focus on getting the result and expend no energy trying to get recognized for producing that result. Consequently, others often credit them with being a significant force in getting that result. In other words, those who pursue recognition rarely get it while those who don’t care who gets the credit are rewarded with recognition of their contribution in getting the result.

Getting the result

The most successful salespeople and most successful leaders among us attribute much of their success to their ability to help others discover the answer on their own. Neither group promotes an Idea. Instead, they ask questions that enable the prospect or their colleagues to discover the answer (solution) on their own.

These folks realize that when others’ find the solution on their own, they are more likely to:

  • Embrace the idea.
  • Act on it quickly.

When that happens the result is virtually assured.

For you

Whether you’re male or female, the next time you find yourself frustrated because you’re not gaining the recognition you desire ask yourself “Has my focus been on getting recognition or getting the result?”

Understanding your motivation and altering your behavior to favor the result over recognition will go a long way to making you one of the most successful people out there. And while you’ll gain more recognition, you’ll discover that you don’t need others’ recognition to affirm your worth. Results will provide that affirmation for you.

For our kids

The desire for recognition is a natural human tendency. One we all possess to some degree. You can help your kids overcome this natural tendency by simply asking them how willing they are to help someone who craves recognition. Then ask how willing they are to help someone whose primary goal is getting a result…without regard to who gets the credit.

These simple questions will help your kids realize that seeking recognition prevents them from getting the recognition they desire, while getting a result provides it’s own reward in affirming their value.

I love hearing readers’ thoughts and experiences, please enter your comment below.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs.

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