Your boss, the Idea Stealer.

Your boss, the Idea Stealer, who takes your ideas, passes them off as hers, covers her tracks, leaves no traces of pilfering or a break-in, and does it all without witnesses seeing it happening. With thanks to  Linnda Durre, Ph.D. for the concept. 

SITUATION: Your boss is basically a thief – she steals your ideas and passes them off as her own. You’ll be sitting at a meeting, read it in the monthly report, or you’ll hear something like “XXX had a great idea of combining two departments into one and she told us today in the weekly meeting….” You realize it was your idea that you shared with your boss last week.  Sometimes you and your boss worked on it together, but mostly it’s your idea. She’s clever enough to take your ideas when there are no witnesses who could vouch for you.

You feel betrayed and rightly so. You may be passed over for recognition, promotions, raises, and acknowledgement because your boss passes off your ideas as hers. She’s so clever that she convinces herself that it’s her idea, and tries to convince you of the same. Don’t let her convince you to capitulate, giving her credit, rights, or royalties from your work.  Like a leech she drains others’ brilliant concepts and innovations and sucks the oxygen right out of the room

Since she’s your boss, it’s difficult to confront her. You want her to like you and like your work, and you’d also like to climb the ladder yourself.   However, she will keep you working under her because she needs you and your ideas –you make her look like a genius, so most likely, she will not promote you,  and she will guard you like Ft. Knox because you’re worth a gold mine to her. She feels you’re her possession. She may discourage other bosses from pirating you away by telling them you’re really not that good. She’ll demean you to others to hoard you for her own.

If you demand it, she may give you a salary uplift to keep you happy and to secure your place in her department.  When she gets a promotion, she may take you with her, to keep up the flow of ideas that she can use as her own.  She may ask your opinion and you may inadvertently give her gold nuggets of ideas that she passes off as her own.

If you want to claim credit for your own ideas, you have to send your ideas to HER boss as quickly as you get them in your head so you can protect your innovative solutions as your own without him stealing them. You may want to send yourself the ideas as a certified return receipt requested letter, so you have a date when you created your ideas. If you have more lucrative ideas that need intellectual property protection, then find a lawyer and register them as copyrights, patents, and trademarks.

There are solutions to this, and  Linnda Durre, Ph.D., Author of Surviving the Toxic Workplace – Protect Yourself Against Co-workers Bosses and Work Environments That Poison Your Day published by McGraw Hill, February 19, 2010, on whom this blog post was based, has plenty of good ones to offer. My solution, though, is simple. Leave. Go now, leave by the first door you see, pack your stuff, sign the resignation  letter, wave goodbye, and LEAVE!

Life is too short to put up with a boss you do not trust, whose practice you do not respect, with whom a real working relationship is almost impossible because of the lack of trust and respect. You are worth more than that. Perhaps a short period of trial, waiting to see if things improve, might be useful – but my experience is that once an idea-thief, always an idea-thief. So, for goodness sake, leave!

This post is dedicated to a friend of mine, an ex-colleague.

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