Leveraging Your Leadership

About 10 years ago someone recommended the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  It wasn't a newly published book by any means.  It was first printed in 1936. So if it's that amazing why am I just now hearing about it?  Still, I was intrigued, but I felt weird about going to buy the book because I wasn't looking for anymore friends, and, for some reason, I interpreted the word "influence" with a negative connotation -- manipulative or contriving.  With this undertone I didn't feel like I needed to influence anyone.

Even so, I still bought the book.  I respected the person who recommended it and, at the time, I was venturing into a side-hustle job which included sales -- and lord knows I needed help in the sales department.  Little did I know that this book would change the way I live personally and professionally.  Its content continues to profoundly impact several of my interactions as a leader to this day.

Carnegie stated, "a leader's job often includes changing your people's attitudes and behavior," and throughout his book he shares 9 principles to accomplish this successfully:

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  2. Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  5. Let the other person save face.
  6. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.
  7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  8. Use encouragement.
  9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

As I people-watch and observe others' actions and leadership-moves it seems these 9 principles come easy to some.  For me, it didn't.  So after reading the book I continued to observe, reflect, and learn about how these 9 principles could guide me towards leading positively.  I never led negatively -- I just don't know how many I was truly "leading".  To lead you need to have those who will follow.  I was always described as logical, analytical, independent thinker.  I often used the mind-set of "take it or leave it".  Because of this I was well-respected, but by no means a great leader.  Over time I've learned that leading is more about human relations than it is about expertise.

And even though my side-hustle sales job didn't amount to much and only lasted a short while, I gained so much from the opportunity.  Whenever a leader is trying to rally the team around an idea, they are selling.  Before your team can move forward with any sort of idea, the leader must share the story, the big idea, and then develop a sense of urgency -- just like any good salesperson.  As a leader I am constantly trying to win the team's buy-in and influence their next actions.  So yes, this was the perfect book for me after all. 

Now go leverage your leadership by winning over the people you work with and influencing them to do amazing things!  

If you're read this book and it profoundly impacted you, or you have other ways in which you positively influence your team, share your ideas below so we can all learn from them.