Dale Carnegie on Leadership


Principles of Being a Leader

Perhaps no one individual has had as much influence on social and business relationships as has Dale Carnegie. If you have not read His famous book, How to Make Friends and Influence People, you’re already behind. I will continue by saying I have no connection with this book. I’m choosing to write about it because of the impact it’s had on how I view people and relationships, just as so many others will attest.

It was first published in 1936, is now in an 11th edition, and is regularly updated to remain current. It was the first and is one of the finest self-help books ever published. It has sold over 15 million copies, worldwide, and has been translated into dozens of languages.

The original 1936 edition opened with this one-page list that preceded the main content, to set reader expectations:

Twelve Things This Book Will Do For You

  • Get you out of a mental rut, give you new thoughts, new visions, new ambitions.
  • Enable you to make friends quickly and easily.
  • Increase your popularity.
  • Help you win people to your way of thinking.
  • Increase your influence, your prestige, your ability to get things done.
  • Enable you to win new clients, new customers.
  • Increase your earning power.
  • Make you a better salesman, a better executive.
  • Help you to handle complaints, avoid arguments, keep your human contacts smooth and pleasant.
  • Make you a better speaker, a more entertaining conversationalist.
  • Make the principles of psychology easy for you to apply in your daily contacts.
  • Help you to arouse enthusiasm among your associates

He did not disappoint.

Born on a farm in 1888, Dale Carnegie rose from poverty and began working in sales immediately after college. Following a brief but successful career in sales, he went on to develop the first of what is now a series of courses. The flagship course, naturally, was the eponymous Dale Carnegie Course, still offered in many languages, and in over 90 locations around the globe. Of note is the fact that Warren Buffet took the Dale Carnegie course, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” when he was only 20 years old; the diploma still hangs in his office.

Essentially, Carnegie’s course – and the book – teach that the way in which to change other people’s behavior is to change one’s behavior toward them.

“There is only one way . . . to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it.”                                                                         –    Dale Carnegie

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”                                                                                 –   Dale Carnegie

The above are just two of the many quotes specifically relating to leadership that Carnegie created, and are a very small sample of the many quips and quotes of his which one can find posted in offices across the country, and wherever motivational thoughts and business inspiration are sought on a daily basis.

In keeping with the themes of his teaching and coaching, Dale Carnegie offered nine principles necessary to demonstrate leadership – and many a dog-eared copy exists, without a doubt:

  • Begin With Praise And Honest Appreciation. This approach acknowledges the value of the individual to the organization and establishes a tone that encourages open communication.
  • Call Attention To People’s Mistakes Indirectly. Allay the usual tendency to become defensive by pointing out errors and deficiencies in a non-confrontational manner;
  • Talk About Your Own Mistakes Before Criticizing The Other Person. By honestly acknowledging personal errors or oversights, eliminate barriers and pave the way to the acceptance of positive coaching.
  • Ask Questions Instead Of Giving Direct Orders. Help the other individual think for themselves, and, in so doing, both take ownership of the problem they face and its solution.
  • Let The Other Person Save Face. Respect the individual when correcting the behavior.
  • Praise The Slightest Improvement And Praise Every Improvement. Be hearty in your Approbation And Lavish In Your Praise. Praise is the fodder that spurs productivity; there is no better way to improve efficiency, commitment, and performance than through recognition for a job well done.
  • Give The Other Person A Fine Reputation To Live Up To. Whether children or adults, human beings will always tend to live up to (or down to) whatever is anticipated and expected of them. Clearly signifying high expectations of another encourages that person to strive to achieve them.
  • Use Encouragement. Make The Fault Seem Easy To Correct. Confidence begets confidence. Expressing belief in another person’s competency to correct a fault helps them believe they are capable of doing so.
  • Make The Other Person Happy About Doing The Thing You Suggest. Develop productive attitudes and behaviors in another by supporting and encouraging their desire for improvement.

 I first read this book a decade ago and recently listened to it on http://www.audible.com while multitasking my morning routine. It amazes me the founding principles of a book written close to a century ago still apply to every business today, despite our advances in technology and use of social media. In fact, the most successful and progressive business that I can think of today seems to exercise the principles the best. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.



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