Dale Carnegie’s Leadership Mantra 

The thoughts of Dale Carnegie (24th November 1888-1st November 1955), a globally renowned American writer, lecturer, an expert in developing self-improvement courses, a great ideator in public speaking and developing interpersonal skills, are still relevant today, even close to seven decades after his death. His ideas on leadership had influenced many across the world, over the decades and across many fields.

One of his books titled ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ was not only a bestseller but also has an enduring appeal across generations, geographies and age-groups. It can be easily ranked among the greatest books on interpersonal relationships ever written and has many leadership lessons implicit in it.

Praise and Appreciation 

In that celebrated book, Dale Carnegie emphasised on the importance of honest praise and appreciation, which the leaders from today’s corporate world should use liberally to bring the best from her/his team. He wrote in the book that “Be ‘hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise,’ and people will cherish your words and treasure them and repeat them over a lifetime.”

 This reveals his great insight of human psychology, as human beings often crave for praise or appreciation. He wrote the immortal lines, “Abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement,” which is still relevant in all walks of life. In the world of business also praise, encouragement and appreciation are effective tools for the managers and business leaders to bring the best out of their team.

It is especially motivating for workers if praise or appreciation comes from their superiors as it clearly indicates that a person receiving such praise or appreciation is being valued. Right amount of praise for good work done from the manager or team leader can spur her/his team to perform even better. It is because not only money but being acknowledged is also a great motivator.

Being Genuinely Interested 

Carnegie also calls for being genuinely interested in people surrounding you in your day-to-day life. This can help to have a better influence on them. In the corporate world, managers who are genuinely interested in their team and who care for their team members are likely to find it comparatively easy to bring the best out of their team members as compared to managers who are not that genuinely interested in their team. Being genuinely interested or caring about team members also helps the leader to gain trust of her/his team quickly. However, being genuinely interested and caring about people is no way similar to being inquisitive and nosy about other people’s lives.

Admitting Mistakes 

The importance of acknowledging one’s mistakes has also been promoted through the above-mentioned celebrated book and inculcating this healthy trait can greatly enhance the leadership quality in the corporate world too. It displays the leader’s or the manager’s honesty and integrity and also helps her/him to better identify with her/his team members and also contributes to a more open work environment. All of these results in turn can facilitate better performance of the company or the team. 

Carnegie through his writings also suggests that one needs to admit one’s own mistakes before criticising others and if one needs to criticise others it should be done indirectly and subtly. This advise too is very much relevant for today’s business leaders as harsh criticism can dampen the spirit of many potential great workers, which in turn can hamper the growth of companies.

The Art of Motivation 

Carnegie put forward a very unconventional and unique idea for that time when he voiced that financial success owes much less to professional knowledge and much more to express ideas, to be a leader and to generate enthusiasm among people. 

This perspective of the visionary but at the same time highly pragmatic man is also very much essential for business leaders to imbibe in their day-to-day operations. By generating enthusiasm among her/his team and her/his clientele through a novel idea, a business leader can garner much more success than she/he could with top-notch professional knowledge about the business alone.

You are the Second

He also gave the golden advice that to influence people one needs to prioritise their   needs and wants over one’s own. He said, “the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.” This seminal saying is again relevant for all times and for all walks of life. 

By imbibing the practical philosophy behind these words and putting it into practice, businesses and business leaders can significantly enhance their success potential. For example, a CEO who is more sensitive to her/his client’s needs and vision rather than her/his own has more chance of influencing the client to get into a mutually lucrative deal than the CEO who is more focused on her/his lofty vision without giving heed to her/his client’s needs.

Empowering Employees 

Carnegie also suggested through the example of industrialist Owen D. Young that it was always preferable for the business leader to let her/his assistants have the opportunity to do things themselves through the help of her/his suggestions or guidance rather than instructing them what and how things need to be done. 

This can be a modern management mantra for many corporations who want their employees to become more responsible and take ownership of their work.

So we can see that Carnegie’s ideas from the early twentieth century can easily be relevant for business operations in our new century. It is likely that the sparkling wisdom from his above-mentioned celebrated book would continue to influence principles of management and HR policies for many more decades to come.

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