Perhaps you have had to participate in a group project at some time in your career or in school. Every member of the group was assigned and/or expected to perform a particular role in the project’s completion. In reality, everybody did not pull their own weight. Or perhaps everybody except one member performed their expected tasks. The outlier procrastinated or shirked his responsibility. This meant that the other people had to do extra work in order to complete the assignment.
Yet, in the end, the outlier also wanted to take credit for the success of the project. The productive members were not happy about this. This justifiably generated resentment against the outlier when the supervisor or teacher gave equal credit to all of the group, including the outlier. This is one example of wrongful sharing.
In another instance, a group is assigned a research project, but there are no outliers. Everybody works diligently with equal effort to complete the work. Upon examination by the teacher, a vital error is discovered that invalidates the the findings of the group. In this case, the group, as a whole, owns responsibility for the oversight. The group shares the error and takes one for the team. As long as there is no history of group dysfunction, this is an example of right sharing.
Life is filled with nuance and grey areas, so it is smart to be mindful of our active sharing when we construct our personal code of ethics. In most cases, wrong and right are obvious.
During my sophomore year of college, our radio journalism class was split into groups that were expected to produce documentaries. The group of four students, to which I belonged, was assigned to produce a 15-minute documentary about how the local Native American community was affected by the then current national economic recession. I was required to interview tribal elders and a spokesman for the Winnebago nation. All four of us were to colaborate on writing and editing the documentary’s script.
One student was in charge of technically editing and splicing the tapes. The final mixing and evaluation was to be undertaken by all of us. The student who was assigned the tape splicing chores skipped out on his share, so I had to take up the slack. On the day of the final mixing and production, the truent student showed up to the studio but took part mainly as a bystander.
The documentary was ultimately completed and produced; then aired on the college radio station. The instructor gave all four of us a grade “A” for our work. The three of us who did the actual work were not pleased, but we had to accept the instructor’s evaluation of the group effort. In this case, the outlier earned the enmity of not only the group members, but also that of the entire class. Nobody wanted him included in future group projects.
For several years, I had the good fortune of working under the supervision of a basically good boss. One year, several of us employees won first place award plaques from the Associated Press. Those of us who the A.P. recognized, were thrilled with the kudos. During a special celebratory dinner, the boss congratulated each of us individually. Later, our award plaques were put on display in the radio station lobby. It was still clear that the successes were ours. Meantime, the company as a whole also benefited.
The overall takeaway from these scenarios is basic wisdom. Share concern over other’s mistakes but never glom other’s achievements. It is a matter of good friendship to comfort and commiserate with someone else’s troubles. However, it is unkind to share the glory of someone else’s achievements. Right sharing fosters amity while wrong sharing creates enmity.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Turkish novelist, playwright, and thinker, Mehmet Murat ildan. “Life is an ocean and every ocean necessitates right thinking and right action or else sinking becomes the only fate realisable!”
I wonder if there ever wrre/are hard feelings when a Nobel prize is awarded to a group of people. Probably not significantly.
There may have been isolated incidents. However, it seems that all of the Nobel laureates have been generous in sharing the credit and the glory with their colleagues. At least I hope so.
In my experience, an individual(s) are often given too much credit for group achievements.
They are sometimes called “weasels” or worse. “-)