Often times during my career when micro—or mismanaged, I would ponder, “How did my boss ever get promoted to a leadership position?” My colleagues always concurred and we would commiserate about their lack of knowledge, experience, positive attitude, interpersonal skills—to name a few.
I myself had aspirations to promote and decided to invest in myself by enrolling in a Dale Carnegie course—one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. After graduation, I quickly promoted to director because I was astute at the application of some of Dale Carnegie’s key leadership principles.
The mantra ‘Actions speak louder than words,’ rings true. Here are three principles to follow if you are ready to walk like a leader.
- ’Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person,’ is Dale Carnegie’s 24th leadership principle. Providing constructive criticism is never easy no matter how long a leader has managed employees. Reinforcing trust and respect before offering negative feedback will soften the blow while still instilling the correction(s) that must be made. Leaders who preface constructive criticism by sharing how they themselves have for example made similar mistakes or been confused by the same process/protocol/policy comforts the managed employee. This is because admitting to past mistakes demonstrates that even the leader is imperfect and vulnerable, just like the employee. Leaders who explain their mistake and how they corrected it instill hopeful and respectful feelings so that the employee can save face and confidently perform corrective measures.
- ‘Ask questions instead of giving direct orders,’ is Dale Carnegie’s 25th leadership principle. Weak leaders bark orders and assume all employees will comply accordingly. Stellar leaders ask questions regarding a new responsibility or assignment in an effort to engage employees. For example, at the start of a shift, a manager who asks the employee if he or she has ever performed a certain job function will obtain the response necessary to ascertain how much time to invest in coaching the employee. The employee will be more likely to want to learn the new responsibility and perform it well if he or she has the opportunity to ask questions in kind. Facilitating a conversation where key information flows positions the employee for success. Barking orders often relegates the employee to failure.
- ‘Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement,’ is Dale Carnegie’s 27th leadership principle and includes, “Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” Praising employees demonstrates appreciation and respect, and helps foster feelings of ambition and competence. According to a Gallup study, employees who have supervisors that care about them, e.g. discuss their career progress, encourage development, and provide opportunities to learn and grow—have, “lower turnover, higher sales growth, better productivity, and better customer loyalty than work groups in which employees report that these developmental elements are scarce.”
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