What it Takes to Lead

Over the course of our lives many of us will encounter people that we consider natural leaders. People who behave in a way that make others want to succeed. If we’re lucky enough to call one of these people ‘boss’ for even a short period of time, we will have hit the career jackpot.

What is it that these leaders are doing that make others want to step up?

They consistently do things that others don’t — they lead by example. Their ability to bring out the best in people around them can seem effortless, but it is work. You will never hear a leader say ‘that’s not my job’. Leaders roll up their sleeves without concern for hierarchy. They are knowledgeable, curious and empathetic, but also serious and committed to what they believe in, and that includes the people they work with.

When working with leaders, we often don’t know that we’re giving more than our usual until we find ourselves doing things to better our own game. Call it competition or a desire to impress, whatever it is, it works. When you think about it, that’s a pretty great way to get more out of people. It sure beats demanding and berating in an attempt to get increased performance.

We may not all be leaders by instinct and Dale Carnegie recognized that people can learn and apply the most important leadership skills in order to be successful. From his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, I have recreated his Leadership Principles, below:

“A leader’s job often includes changing your people’s attitudes and behavior. Some suggestions to accomplish this:

Principle 1: Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

Principle 2: Call attention to other people’s mistakes indirectly.

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

Principle 4: Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

Principle 5: Let the other person save face.

Principle 6: Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be ‘hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise’.

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

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

Principle 9: Make the other person happy about doing the thing that you suggest.

And my own additional Principle: Remember that you are dealing with people and that every one of us has made and will continue to make mistakes.  It’s how we act when we make them that demonstrates our true leadership skills.

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