Leaders maintain a critical role in how engaged employees feel toward a company. Unfortunately, employee engagement dropped again in 2022 to just 32% engaged. Additionally, up to 17% of workers are actively disengaged. With the Great Resignation still in full swing and Silent Quitting on the rise, it’s more important than ever to have effective leaders.
Effective leadership starts with effective leadership goals. Leadership goals can vary widely based on what each leader needs to work on. But Dale Carnegie left us some pretty explicit instructions for being leaders, and we think they apply to everyone.
Dale Carnegie Principles for Becoming a Better Leader
How to Win Friends and Influence People is still one of the most widely read books of our time—and for good reason. In it, Dale sets out thirty principles by which we can live better lives. And nine of these Dale Carnegie principles are directly aimed at helping us become better leaders. They are:
- Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
- Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
- Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
- Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
- Let the other person save face.
- Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.
- Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
- Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
- Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.
3 Leadership Goals Every Leader Should Have
We can encapsulate all these Dale Carnegie principles in just three simple leadership goals . . .
Goal #1 – Show More Appreciation
Dale says that to be a leader, we must “begin with praise and honest appreciation.” This is true whether you’re recognizing hard work or calling attention to a mistake. According to Deloitte, engagement improves by 15% in companies that have recognition programs. We should “praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement” because no step is too small to celebrate. When we show appreciation for hard work, we are also “giving the other person a fine reputation to live up to.”
Turn this into a leadership by setting up your own recognition schedule. Choose a set number of times you will show appreciation each day or week. Set some sort of visual reminders, such as marking it on a post-it, so you can see if you’re meeting your goal.
Goal #2 – Don’t Assign Blame
No one likes being called out for a mistake, especially in public. This is why a leader “let[s] the other person save face” by approaching them personally and in a friendly manner. Since criticizing is never truly the answer, we should instead “call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.” We should also “talk about [our] own mistakes before criticizing the other person.” Yes, feedback is important, especially when mistakes are being made. But providing feedback in a non-threatening way is critical to being a good leader. In the end, we can “use encouragement, and make the fault seem easy to correct.”
Turn this into a leadership smart goal by taking a new approach to difficult conversations. Make it a point to learn how to communicate with different personality styles.
Goal #3 – Empower Employees
Leadership development goals should include developing those around us, too. Studies show that an empowered employee is a happy employee who is more likely to stick around and do good work. This speaks directly to Dale’s rule: “Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.” When we ask questions, we can help lead that employee to their own answer rather than providing it for them. This will “make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest” because they will have come to the conclusion on their own.
Turn this into a leadership smart goal by making real changes within your organization to help empower employees. As a leader, this must start with self-awareness and the ability to empathize with your reports. Understand what they need and make it a goal to provide them with it.
Need more help with setting effective leadership goals? Dale Carnegie has you covered. In our virtual course “Goal Setting and Accountability,” we take participants through not only setting their own goals but also how to help others set goals too. Explore all of Dale Carnegie’s courses today!