You might have heard of Dale Carnegie, but did you know he grew up in poverty and became an influential American writer and lecturer? During the 1930s, he developed courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills.
Perhaps his most famous book, first published in 1936, was How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Leaders today can still benefit from the messages shared in this book. It provides valuable insights and practical advice on improving social skills and building strong relationships—all important for being an effective leader.
Read or re-read How to Win Friends and Influence People to help you become a more influential leader.
My top three favorite messages for leaders to master from Carnegie’s book are:
- Be a good listener.
- Show genuine interest in others.
- Admit your own mistakes.
In another example, when giving feedback to people on their performance, I use the term “constructive feedback” while others might say “constructive criticism.” Although I dislike the word “criticism,” I’m big on offering feedback that’s helpful. That’s what coaches do.
Dale Carnegie would concur. He wrote:
“Criticism is futile because it puts a man on the defensive, and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous because it wounds a man’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses his resentment.”
Note: If Carnegie were alive today, I’m sure he’d re-write this passage to be gender neutral.
Being an influential leader has its benefits. Here are three:
- Leaders convey trustworthiness—a key driver of employee engagement.
- Change happens easier and quicker—everyone gets on board with minimal conflict.
- Employees are motivated to consistently meet expectations, positively and productively.
You’re likely an influential leader already, but why not pick up a few more nuggets from Carnegie to become an even greater influencer in your organization?