How to win students and influence employability


Education lessons from 1936…

Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” draws up lots of questions for me to better myself when teaching, coaching and working with people. So many of the suggestions and examples in the book resonate with our work in developing high performing people – in education, sport and business.

Here are 3 of the 12 Actionable Strategies Dale discusses.



Chapter 1 suggests we should not criticise, condemn or complain. This is tough. But why does he suggest this?  Fundamentally we must remember that when people behave in the way they do, it is because they thought it was right for them at the time.

It can be futile criticising because it puts the person on the defensive and gives them a negative mindset. How many times have we criticised a student to hear them say its not my fault, and for them justify why they did it?

Criticism can cause long term damage. Abraham Lincoln, one of the most famous presidents of America, learnt this after he criticised a political rival James Shields and almost led to a fatal duel, so he changed his behaviour away from criticism to understanding.

And Confucius, the Chinese philosopher of 400BC, suggested: 

“Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbour’s roof, when your own doorstep is unclean”.

In terms of students this could suggest the importance of becoming more self-aware, to better understand themselves and their strengths, before criticising others. Our work in universities and colleges gets to the heart of this area. This links to one of our quote wall favourites,

“Before you can be someone, you need to know who you are”.

Sometimes we all tend to forget that people aren’t logical they are emotional and – emotions drive thoughts, thoughts drive behaviour and behaviour drives performance.

So, what may seem “illogical” to us is often an emotional reaction from the person who acted. Another reason not to criticise, condemn or complain.

Both Andy Cope, recently in his book the Art of Brilliance, and Carnegie agree – it is all too easy for us to try to find fault in each other. Breaking this habit by seeing the good in people has so many benefits.


Everyone wants to feel important – our students want good grades and to work towards getting a job so they feel important. To feel important and appreciated they need confidence and to know their strengths. Our To Boldy Go programme helps students to identify and articulate their strengths and behaviours at work.

In our workshops we provide students with environments which encourage sharing honest and sincere appreciation. With this comes motivation, positivity and the desire to go out to the world and use these strengths. For example knowing one of our students liked praise, I spoke to her warmly about the specific work she had done and the effect of that for the group.


The easiest way for us to get students to do what you want is to make them want to do it. This  means talking in terms of their needs not ours. We can do this by enthusiasm but also by a real understanding of that person’s strengths and behaviours.

Our programmes can help students to understand themselves and their peers better – their motivators, their fears, their strengths. For example, I needed a shy boy to lead a team of 4 to run an exercise. I knew that although he was shy, he loved power and authority, so I appointed him as the leader of the group and set him a task. He loved it, his shoulders and head went up. He smiled, looked at me, looked at the group and off he went, completing the task better than I could.

So by students understanding themselves, and the universities understanding better their strengths, the students can reach out and seek the future they deserve.

And those are just the first 3 principles as to how we can win students and influence employability.

At Sport and Beyond everything we do is about driving high performance in people – we can help with self-awareness, emotional intelligence and increasing performance in teams for your school, college or university. For more information contact

Nicky HORNComment