Career and Leadership Success
Begin and End with Integrity.

Okay common sense says we know this already. Common sense says we are professionals and know that doing this would only serve to hurt us way more than it could help us.
Common sense says people want to hire, promote and work with those who demonstrate integrity. And professional standards tell us that our careers and leaders will not flourish if we are deemed untrustworthy and lacking in integrity. Even still it happens, and, sadly, people are hoping to gain huge benefit without doing any of the work.
Your reputation, character and leadership are more important than sales, views, comments or shortsighted attention grabs. And it is hard to repair a reputation once you are deemed as untrustworthy or lacking in integrity.
You hear about it happening. You know that people do it. And we all know it is wrong. But this morning the most blatant form of plagiarism slapped me right in the face as I was reading a post by one author that was literally copied and pasted – nearly verbatim – from the work of another author. In this instance, it wasn’t even my work, but it really does have me miffed. Today was my reminder that common sense isn’t all that common and professional standards and ethics are just nonexistent for some.

What Prompted this Article on Plagiarism Today

The post written by Libby Fordham and posted on LinkedIn titled “So you’re not up at 5am to work? What’s wrong with you? Nothing.” was completely plagiarized by another person and presented to us as if the message, ideas and thoughts in the post had originated from the second author. Both articles posted two days ago (they appear to have been published only a day apart) are doing exceptionally well on LinkedIn’s forum for views and shares (at the time of this publishing, the original post has received nearly 300,000 views and the plagiarized post has received more than 45,000 views).
I am not going to bother with giving space or attention here to the individual who plagiarized Libby’s work because I think that is part of the reason this was done in the first (for more attention). If you want to know who the blatant plagiarizer is, just look at Libby’s post and then search for the same thing on LinkedIn. You are sure to see it as the comments on it are brutal with nearly everyone commenting on the fact that it is a plagiarized article.
I was compelled to write this post after I kept thinking about why this individual would do this and how much of a lasting effect it will have on his/her career and reputation. So why do you think it happens? Why would someone blatantly plagiarize another’s work when the cost-benefit analysis so clearly works against doing it? I pose some viable reasons and would love to get your comments below.

Why do people do it?

  • Laziness or Busyness. They just don’t feel like doing any of the work or don’t have time to.
  • Incompetence. They actually don’t know to form and communicate written thoughts well and may not be skilled at researching. It may also be that they don’t know how to use good research to help expand on original thoughts and then transform that to writing.
  • Attention Grab. By plagiarizing a highly successful work, an individual can feel that he could piggy back on the topic/message that is getting great interest at the moment and cares more about the potential attention than the potential harm to his reputation.

How does it ruin your career and reputation?

  • Plagiarism is stealing. It hurts your career trajectory way more than it helps. You become untrustworthy and known as a person of poor character.
  • We hire and promote those that we trust, and those in senior executive roles are (or should be) held to higher standards of accountability and credibility.  After you lose your integrity, you usually decrease your career prospects greatly.
  • Credibility and integrity are top leadership competencies, and plagiarism demonstrates a lack of both.

What does plagiarism really say about a person?

  • I don’t care. To me it says that integrity, honor, ethics and trustworthiness are way down on the list of what matters to the person and his professional journey. He seeks to advance the career ladder at any means necessary and does not care about professional standards.
  • It also represents a character flaw.

What should we do instead?

  • Ask for help and guidance when and where you need it so you can learn how to form original thinking and translate that into a written communication.
  • Think, process, write, proof/edit, and process some more; then publish your own work.
  • Learn the rules. Again, give proper credit and citation when you apply or use another’s work, ideas thoughts, etc.

Can we use another person’s work, ideas and writings?

  • Absolutely Yes! That is what we call research, and it is encouraged (even mandated) from the halls of academia to the halls of governments and corporations. We all borrow from others with respect to ideas, perspectives and published works, but those of us with integrity will give proper credit and source appropriately.
  • Give Credit. The goal is not to be prohibited from using another’s work; the goal is to give and share credit when we do. The whole purpose of research is to find the great thinking and ideas out there and then incorporate this work in with our own work and reference accordingly.
  • Get Permission (if required). If the material says “must get permission first” or “all rights reserved” then just ask for permission. Sometimes there are licensing fees involved.

Are Your LinkedIn Publications Copyrighted?

  • Absolutely Yes! Our intellectual property is protected by copyright law even if it does not have the copyright symbol (and that “all rights reserved” message) on it.
  • According to the United States Copyright Office, our work is protected “under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.”

You Tell Me –

  • What are other reasons people plagiarize another’s work?
  • What does it say to you about a person who does this?
Fordham, L. (2014). So you’re not up at 5am to work? What’s wrong with you? Nothing.” LinkedIn Publishing Article
United States Copyright Office –

Terina Allen
CEO, ARVis Institute
International Speaker | Strategist | Management Consultant | Educator | Author

Leave a Comment