Lee Iacocca on Dale Carnegie Leadership
Like just about everybody else, I grew up scared to death of all the thought of standing in front of a group people and giving a speech. It still terrifies me. When I landed my first important job at Ford, they sent me to a Dale Carnegie course. The idea was to make me more comfortable in front of an audience, and it worked. The fear didn't go away, but I learned how to control it. Fear takes a lot of energy I discovered, and channeling all that energy into the speech itself is the best way to make it work for you instead of against you.
I don’t’ know how many speeches I gave in my forty-six years in the auto industry, but it was easily more than a thousand. By actual count I gave 663 during my fourteen years at Chrysler. Some were to small groups of employees, dealers, or suppliers. Others were to large audiences of several thousand. One was to five hundred thousand people in Central Park during the big Liberty Weekend celebration in 1986. I spoke in Superdome in New Orleans and in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. And I spoke to an eighth grade graduation class in a small park across from their school in Lowell, Massachusetts. I spoke in the main ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria so many times that the waiters used to lip-sync my best lines.
Communication has been my most valuable management tool. Some business leaders succeed because they are technical or financial geniuses. I realized early that I was pretty good at using the spoken word to move an organization in the direction I wanted, and I used that tool every day. I realized that if people understand what you want them to do, and it makes sense, they’ll do it.