Andrew Carnegie Leadership
Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)
American businessman and philanthropist, born in Dunfermline, Scotland.
Founder of the Carnegie Steel company, which later became U.S. Steel.
He (pictured right) gave away 90% his wealth, believing you should split your life into three
equal parts: education, earning and giving.
Why was he a great
1. Lifelong learning
Great early influences were his:
- father, William, a self- educated, political activist for poor people.
- uncle, who taught him Scottish history and inspired his lifelong love
of Shakespeare (pictured
As a young 16-year-old telegraph messenger boy in Pittsburgh, he delivered messages to a theatre and saw
Shakespeare there for free!
He valued education greatly which is why he gave away so much of his fortune to public
libraries and universities.
He was a highly competitive, self-made man, who pushed himself to achieve success with
single-minded devotion and determination.
His motto was “anything in life worth having is worth working for”.
He was against privilege by birth and strongly believed in advancement on merit, which is why he liked America
3. Purpose and
He wanted to not only be a great businessman, but also do something useful with his money.
“The man who dies rich dies disgraced”, he said.
- gave away most of his $350 million fortune (worth nearly $1000 million today) to help
- set up libraries and universities.
4. Character and charm
Character and doing right were very important to him.
“No amount of ability is of the slightest avail without honour”, he said.
He was a tough boss (see point 5), but not as ruthless as other bosses of his time.
He valued love and kindness most of all.
He was vane and boastful, but charming, funny and able to win people over to his point of
He drove his employees very hard. They worked long hours in boiling hot temperatures to
keep the steel furnaces going.
They went on a strike in 1892 at his Homestead steel factory in
Pittsburgh over a reduction in pay.
His deputy, Henry Frick (pictured right), brought in non-union workers under the armed
guard of 300 private detectives, provoking a bloody battle with the strikers.
Seven were killed and hundreds injured.
Carnegie won, but he lost his reputation as a kind employer.
He was a highly paternalistic boss, who thought he:
- knew what was best for his employees.
- wrongly believed that their ignorance was the main cause of any employee unrest.
6. Calm, relaxation and delegation
He was calm and unworried under pressure. This was helped by the fact that he spent at
least half his time on his leisure, particularly music and theatre.
He was a great delegator (during the Homestead strike he was in Scotland), providing the
inspiration, ideas and driving force, whilst his employees worked long hours.
“The secret of success lies not in doing your own work but in recognizing the right man to do
it”, he said.
7. Customer satisfaction and innovation
He satisfied his customers by:
a) technology and mass production
He was the first person to mass produce steel at low cost.
He believed the quality of his products was the most important factor in his success.
c) minimizing costs
(through measuring and tightly controlling them).
d) total control of manufacturing
(which meant owning raw material supplies like iron ore i.e. vertical integration).
8. Optimism and vitality
He was always:
- bursting with ideas and keen to discuss them.
- totally self-confident in his ability to achieve anything he wanted to do.
- positive and enthusiastic (laughing at his problems).
“A sunny disposition is worth more than fortune”, he said.
He believed that success starts with a commercially viable idea and putting it on the market as quickly as
For example, he made his first fortune by backing the inventor of the sleeping car for
He concentrated on steel production and withdrew from his other businesses like
His policy was “to put all good eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket”.
Key quote on
A man who dies rich dies disgraced.
Key quotes on work and
Anything in life worth having is worth working for (his motto).
It is a great mistake to think that the man who works all the time wins the race
Key quotes on leadership and
No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.
The secret of success lies not in doing your own work but in recognizing the right man to do it.
Key quotes on
There is little success where there is little laughter.
Key quote on
Think of yourself on the threshold of unparalleled success. A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you.
Key quote on interviewing and
You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb.