48 Laws of Power | Law 7: Get Others to Do the Work for You, but Always Take the Credit

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Overview of Law #7: Get Others to Do the Work for You, but Always Take the Credit

Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit. Use their skill, time, and energy to further your ambitions while taking full credit. You’ll be admired for your efficiency and accomplishments, while your helpers will be forgotten. 

Principles of Law 7

What does it mean to follow Law 7: Take the Credit? You waste time and energy when you do things others could do for you, or have already done. And when you take advantage of others’ efforts, and take credit for them, you come off as powerful and amazingly productive.

You can take advantage of others in two ways: 

  • You can wait and watch while they do the work, and then just take it from them.
  • You can actively enlist others to work for you and take credit for their accomplishments.

Vultures are an example of taking from others: Vultures know that if they wait long enough, another animal will always do the work of providing dinner. People often do the same thing, circling like vultures waiting for the opportunity to feed on others’ success or creativity. You can’t change this by complaining — you’re better off becoming a vulture yourself.

Francisco Pizarro exemplified the first method of taking from others after they’ve done the work. He was a soldier in the army of the explorer Balboa, who discovered the Incan empire in Peru. After Balboa spent many years searching for it and finally found it, Pizarro turned on Balboa and helped get him executed for treason so he could take the riches and credit for himself.

The artist Peter Paul Rubens used the second method of getting others to do the work for you: actively enlisting others to do your work. When he received more requests for paintings than he could fulfill, he hired many skilled painters with various specialties and set up a production line, in which multiple paintings could be worked on at the same time. Clients were impressed that he could do so many paintings in a short time.

When you take credit for a large amount of work by others, people think you have amazing ability. By contrast, if you try to do all the work yourself, you won’t accomplish much, or others will take advantage of your efforts. Be a user of others’ efforts instead. Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit

You can also use the efforts of people who came before you. Why reinvent the wheel? Isaac Newton exploited the discoveries of ancient scientists and made them seem to be his own new discoveries. Shakespeare used plots from ancient writers such as Plutarch, and today people copy Shakespeare’s plots.

Putting Law 7 to Work

Here’s an example of how to apply Law 7 of the 48 Laws of Power. Edison was one person who knew this law. Thomas Edison hired and repeatedly took credit for the work of a brilliant Serbian scientist, Nikola Tesla. For instance, he offered Tesla $50,000 to redesign Edison’s dynamo, a steam-powered engine that produced direct electric current. When Tesla succeeded, Edison reneged on his promise while taking credit for the improvement.

Later, when Edison refused to support (and actually sabotaged) his research on alternating current, Tesla went to work for Westinghouse, where he got cheated out of credit for his work and payment of royalties again.

Tesla exhausted himself trying to do things on his own, while Edison took the opposite tack — identifying trends and opportunities and then hiring others to do the work, which he then claimed.

Be a vulture yourself. Don’t waste your energy and burn out, when you can simply wait for the right moment, then take others’ lunch. 

Exceptions to Law 7

Are there any exceptions to 48 Laws of Power Law 7? It’s not always smart to take credit for others’ work. 

  • If you haven’t already established a strong reputation, you’ll appear to be grasping for credit and crudely pushing someone else out of the spotlight.
  • Most important, you have to be careful not to upstage a boss by being greedy for credit.

For example, while Henry Kissinger’s talents were the reason for the success of President Nixon’s historic visit to China, he let Nixon bask in the success. He knew how to play the game, taking credit for the work of those under him, while giving the boss credit for his own work.

But in general, remember Law 7: Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit.

48 Laws of Power | Law 7: Get Others to Do the Work for You, but Always Take the Credit

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  • Why you should never outshine your boss
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Amanda Penn

Amanda Penn is a writer and reading specialist. She’s published dozens of articles and book reviews spanning a wide range of topics, including health, relationships, psychology, science, and much more. Amanda was a Fulbright Scholar and has taught in schools in the US and South Africa. Amanda received her Master's Degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

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