What's your problem

I feel like a fraud. My company recently presented me with an award for innovation because of a particularly effective project management scheme I devised. On the back of that, they want to promote me so that I'm involved in leading some extremely complex projects. The problem is that my brilliant idea was in fact my wife's suggestion, which she was happy for me to use.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

But I would never have come up with it myself and I'm terrified that I won't live up to expectations of me in my new role. At the same time, I long for promotion after many years in a dull job. What should I do?

A: I suppose you are a bit of a fraud; but probably not nearly as much of one as your conscience prompts you to think.

Two facts suggest you should have more faith in yourself. I do not believe that your company would have decided to promote you to a challenging new job on the basis of a single scheme, however innovative. They seem to have more belief in you than you do.

And secondly, effective leaders don't in themselves have to be generators of good ideas. If they have inventive people around them and can recognise and promote good ideas when they see them, they are more than fit for leadership. Whether the ideas come from your team or your wife matters not to your company as long as they're good ones.

So my strong advice is that you should accept this new challenge eagerly and optimistically. Any lingering remnants of self-doubt will protect you safely from complacency. You must, however, come absolutely clean about your wife's contribution. Not only does she deserve recognition but you'll feel much less of a fraud when it's openly acknowledged. And I promise you, no-one will think the less of you for it.

- Jeremy Bullmore has been creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London and a non-executive director of the both Guardian Media Group and WPP.

Address your problems to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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