9 Tips on Leadership from Dale Carnegie's 'How to Win Friends and Influence People'

Of the many candidates we work with at amge+, many are already established and respected leaders within their company. For those not yet in a management or leadership role, gaining advice on how to become an effective and inspirational leader is a critical addition to the experience you will gain. One of the books many leaders have read is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.  The book was one of the first bestselling business and ‘self­-help’ books ever published and it remains a classic today. Updated in 1981 and publicly praised by the likes of Warren Buffett, the book has sold over 15 million copies since 1936. How to Win Friends and Influence People explains how to elicit change in others by adjusting your own attitudes and behaviours. Carnegie’s insights about leadership and human nature are still relevant today. By acting with empathy and sincerity, you can lead others effectively while maintaining a strong relationship at a personal level. According to Carnegie, here are the 9 essential principles all leaders should follow:

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

People naturally bristle at criticism - but when that criticism is preceded by a compliment, it can soften the blow. Next time you need to correct or discipline someone, try leading with something they've done well. As Carnegie notes, "Beginning with praise is like the dentist who begins his work with Novocain."

2. Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.

For addressing minor mistakes, Carnegie advises taking an indirect approach. Constantly pointing out small mistakes can lead others to feel discouraged and resentful toward you, whereas modeling the correct behavior will encourage people to follow suit and do things correctly next time.

3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

Showing humility and sharing your own faults will help you seem relatable, and can convince others to change their behavior. “It isn't nearly so difficult to listen to a recital of your faults if the person criticizing begins by humbly admitting that he, too, is far from impeccable,” Carnegie notes.

4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

Nobody likes to take orders. Framing your desired outcome as a request rather than an order encourages cooperation by giving the other person a part in the decision-making process. Instead of ordering someone to complete a task, try asking how the task could be done - you might be pleasantly surprised by the creativity and enthusiasm in the other person’s response.

5. Let the other person save face.

While no one likes reprimanding or terminating an employee, it’s important to show empathy and consideration when doing so. Allowing the other person to keep their dignity in tact will prove advantageous if you find yourself working with that person again in the future, as they’ll remember your kindness and understanding first and foremost.

6. Praise every improvement.

It’s important to motivate others through praise, but be sure to be genuine in your approach. Carnegie reminds readers that “we all crave appreciation and recognition, and will do almost anything to get it. But nobody wants insincerity. Nobody wants flattery.” Praise small achievements in order to spur larger ones, and make sure your praise is specific as well as sincere.

7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

If you wish to see a person develop a skill or trait, it can help to act as though that trait is already one of their outstanding characteristics. As Carnegie says, “Give them a fine reputation to live up to, and they will make prodigious efforts rather than see you disillusioned.

8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

The best leaders are optimistic and encouraging, and they know how to break down seemingly impossible feats into easily accomplish-able tasks. By offering praise and making tasks more manageable, you’ll encourage others to work harder and achieve more.

9. Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.

By providing incentives when possible and conveying any personal benefit someone will gain by carrying out a task, you create an environment where people are happy to follow your lead. Act with empathy and make sure not to promise anything you cannot deliver.

Do you agree with these views on leading people?