Ways to Be a Leader


Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

Sincere praise helps people let their guard down. Begin with good news to make listening to unpleasant things easier.

Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

It is common to begin criticism with praise followed by a 'but' before a critical statement. The receiver will feel encouraged until they hear the word 'but.' That word makes them question the sincerity of the praise. It seems like a back-handed compliment.

Maintain the credibility of your kind words by using the word 'and' rather than 'but.' This switch keeps your remarks positive and indirectly calls attention to areas of improvement without arousing resentment.

Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

Mistakes are inevitable and leaders are far from perfect. When giving criticizing remarks, share your mistakes to appear humble and human. Admitting one's own faults shows one is far from impeccable and can convince somebody to change.

Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

Asking questions makes orders more palatable. Questions also promote creativity if the person is unwilling to do the task. When a person has a part in the decision, a favorable answer and attitude are a more likely response.

 Let the other person save face.

Avoid correcting somebody in front of a customer or fellow employees as this hurts their pride. A few moments of thought and considerate phrasing alleviates the sting of reprimand. There is no need to destroy someone's self-esteem.

Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.

Reinforce good behaviors by acknowledging the slightest improvements. People respond well to praise; however, nobody wants flattery. Sincere and specific compliments inspire continued good behavioral change. 

Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

The principles of this book work were done from the heart. You have to be honest and sincere in your approach or people will begin seeing through your act. If you believe someone has a particular trait, state it when mentioning the person to others. Give them a fine reputation to live up to and they will make an effort to be better.

Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

A recurring theme through this book is positivity, praise and encouragement. Why? The words of others become the voices in our heads. The best mentors are liberal with their encouragement, and cheap with criticism. Encouragement and guidance gives a person a reason to try to improve. The person you encourage will continue to try until they believe in themselves as much as you do.

Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

Here is where you apply all the principles learned in part four. Be sincere and empathetic in the delivery of specific suggestions. Phrase benefits of improving in line with the wants of the person. Then end with encouragement.

If you loved this blog post, you can't go wrong with a copy of Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People."


This article is part of our Business Coaching blog series. At Dataczar we talk to a lot of small businesses. We’ve found a few books that we keep recommending time and again. To better help our customers, we’ve added a Reading List for Small Businesses to our website. We encourage every small business owner to read and keep these timeless business books on their office shelf.