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Be a Leader (Part 7 of 9)

This is the twenty-eighth post in a multi-part series where I share the highlights of the sections/subsections of the book How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

Previous: Praise the slightest improvement, and praise every improvement

Be a Leader: How to Change People without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

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

  • What do you do when a worker’s efforts are becoming less than satisfactory? You could berate him or fire him, but instead say something like this: “You’re a fine mechanic; you’ve been in this line of work for a good number of years. You’ve repaired many vehicles to the customer’s satisfaction. In fact, we’ve had a number of compliments about the good work you’ve done. Yet of late the time you take to complete each job has been increasing and your work has not been up to your own old standards. Because you’ve been such an outstanding mechanic in the past, I felt sure you’d want to know that I’m not happy with the situation. Perhaps jointly we could find some way to correct the problem.”
  • If you want to improve a person in a certain respect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his/her outstanding characteristics.


  • Give someone a fine reputation to live up to, and he/she will make a prodigious effort rather than see you disillusioned.
  • Example: A fourth grade boy who was disruptive yet good at schoolwork. The teacher quickly stepped in and said that she thought he was a natural leader and that she would depend on him to help make the class great. This set up a positive reputation for him to live up to.

Up Next

Use encouragement; make the fault seem easy to correct.


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