“Face the thing that seems overwhelming and you will be surprised how your fear will melt away” is a quote from the world famous American leadership trainer, Dale Carnegie, and 101 years after the introduction of his training program in New York, you may be surprised how that simple premise is still the key to true personal development and meaningful life change.
Of course, in 2013 the market for leadership training has exploded with theories and approaches on sale from a myriad of professional resources in the classroom and online, so what is it about a century old program that could possibly remain relevant in the age of technology and imagination?
When 30 professionals signed away their Thursday evenings for nine weeks in March, some may have been guilty of wondering the same thing, and some may have reluctantly turned up on account of the company that sponsored the cost.
However, as they received their certificates at the final session on May 2, the Dale Carnegie Class of 2013 were emotional and full of praise for the learning experiences and challenges of the course, and celebrated with life-affirming speeches on how they would each take the Dale Carnegie principles forward.
Those final speeches were the result of facing one of the ultimate fears of any professional person – public speaking. Central to the Dale Carnegie Course is mastering the fear of standing up in front of a room full of people and confidently delivering a message, but within the first few hours under the tutelage of masterful Bajan coach, Tom Field, every participant realises they are not alone in being petrified by public speaking.
Over the course of nine sessions, Field offers ingenious memory mechanisms, tricks and tips for meeting people and motivating staff, colourful anecdotes from his 25 years of Dale Carnegie Training, and more than anything, he throws down a challenge to every student – get out of your comfort zone, practice the principles and change your life.
Over the weeks of the course, every student commits to a vision of how they will apply the Dale Carnegie principles to enhance relationships, motivate teams and inspire others to achieve more – they learn how to manage stress and put work demands into perspective, they practice during the working week by applying principles and enjoying the instant results.
More challenging than anything, every student gives at least one prepared speech every week, learning to structure their message, bring it to life and couch it in entertaining language.
From the quietest, most inhibited participant, through the painfully shy to the more outspoken and gregarious, every Dale Carnegie graduate can attest to being terrified at the start, but as the weeks progressed they learn to control and harness their fear, to stand up and share what they discover about themselves and what events shaped their lives.
From a personal development perspective, Dale Carnegie Training can truly change lives, as long as the student is willing to learn, practice and apply the principles: personal relationships improve, positivity becomes a lifestyle and leaders are born. From Tom Field’s message to the graduating class: “Almost all of us met or exceeded our expectations in increasing our self-confidence; nurturing leadership skills; communicating with focus, power and persuasiveness; maintaining control of our attitudes; and developing a dynamic human relations approach to get things done. It is humbling and inspiring to know that we’ve barely begun to reach our true potential and that the learning begun in this program has truly only started.”
In the work environment, the value of emotional intelligence and solid leadership skills cannot be underestimated, and participants are asked to quantify the benefits of their training to their company’s productivity and profitability in concrete terms, and how they can contribute to the reinvention of their organisation.
Organisations like the NIC, Lucelec, Windward & Leeward Brewery, Consolidated Foods Ltd, Courts and M&C Drugstore have put their faith in the Chamber’s Dale Carnegie training, and expect to see the results from their newly energised supervisors and managers.
Investing in leadership training like Dale Carnegie can only benefit the bottom line, and developing supervisors and young execs as well as re-tooling middle and senior managers is a strategic plan every company should consider for the long term health of their business.
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