Andrew Carnegie
Leadership Case Study

Andrew Carnegie Leadership Case Study is a part of Leadership Stories, a series of biographies of great leaders in history that have impacted the world in a huge way.

Andrew Carnegie Leadership
Who was He?

Andrew Carnegie was the father of modern steel and was one of America’s richest men. He started the Carnegie Steel Company, which later merged with Steel Company to become U.S. Steel.

With the money made from his business, he started his philanthropic work, starting many foundations and organization for the cause of world peace and education.

A Short History

Andrew Carnegie was born in 1835 in Scotland into a poor family. William Carnegie, his father, decided to move over to US as the country faced large scale famine in 1848 in hope for a better life over there.

Andrew Carnegie started his first job at the young age of 13 changing the spools of thread in a cotton. 2 years later, he went to Ohio Telegraph Company as a telegraph messenger boy.

He was an extremely hard worker, and gave his best in his work. As a result, he rose to prominence very quickly. At a young age of 18, he became the superintendent of the Pittsburgh division of the telegraph company.

Later on, he would make several good investments in railroad-related industries, creating the foundation for his later wealth.

Eventually he would make his wealth in the steel industry. He became the individual that controlled the largest iron and steel operations in the United States. He would retire from the steel industry at age 66; with a estimated wealth of US$225 million.

He would give his later life to philanthropic work, giving attention to issues like world peace, education. He would establish several foundations and libraries in his lifetime.

Also, he would translate his beliefs in these social causes through authoring several books like Wealth and Triumphant Democracy.

Carnegie passed away at age 83. At the time of his death, he had given over $350 million of his wealth to these works, the largest amount from any individual during that period.

Awards and Honours

Andrew Carnegie had a lot of institutions, awards, streets named after him:

• Carnegie, Oklahoma and Carnegie, Pennsylvania was named after him.
• The Carnegie Medal for Best Children’s Literature was named after him.
• Carnegie Hall in New York was named after him.

Besides that, he had received many other awards and honors, having a lot more other things named after him. He has also founded several social organizations.

Andrew Carnegie
Leadership Lessons

1. The value of hard work

Andrew Carnegie proved to everyone the value of continual hard work in his life. His hard work caused him to be noticed by his superiors, who gave him promotions even at his young age.

In this world of instant-everything, we need to fall back to the principle of continual hard work. Victory and success in life ONLY comes through years after years of working hard. There are no short-cuts to success. 

There are a lot of distractions nowadays with the advent of social media. Stories of people who seemingly becoming successful overnight can tempt anyone to succumb to believe that lasting success can come instantly. You need to filter out these temptations and remind your team to work hard for their goals. 

2.It’s not about what you know, but who you know

Andrew Carnegie understood the importance of this principle and he purposefully went all out to get to know people of prominence in his community whenever he had the chance. His connections ultimately brought him invaluable collaborations and partnerships for his business. 

Your network is your net worth. While it is important to gain knowledge and skills for yourself, it's even better if you can find that somebody who already has all that and is willing to partner you.  Spend more time getting to know people within your industry and even without. 

Connections will become an important resource for you either now or eventually. 

3.Giving back

At age 33, Andrew Carnegie was already doing extremely well in his life, making USD$50,000 a year. However, he found emptiness in his life in his riches. It was then that he realized that a life lived for self was a very empty life.

As a leader, you need understand that we live to become a blessing to the people around us. This includes the people you are benefit through your organization. If you seek to succeed at the expense of others, or seek to take and hoard, you’ll find yourself living a very empty life.

It is important therefore, to live your life to give, and to teach your team as well to live a life to give. With that attitude, you will succeed and become a leader of significance in your life. 

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Andrew Carnegie Leadership

Best Quotes from
Andrew Carnegie Leadership

The average person puts only 25% of his energy and ability into his work. The world takes off its hat to those who put in more than 50% of their capacity, and stands on its head for those few and far between souls who devote 100%.

The man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled.

The men who have succeeded are men who have chosen one line and stuck to it.

There is little success where there is little laughter.

There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else.

Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success. A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you. Achieve! Achieve!

Whatever I engage in, I must push inordinately.

You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb.

You must capture and keep the heart of the original and supremely able man before his brain can do its best.

Do not look for approval except for the consciousness of doing your best.


Do your duty and a little more and the future will take care of itself.

Every act you have ever performed since the day you were born was performed because you wanted something.

He that cannot reason is a fool. He that will not is a bigot. He that dare not is a slave.

I resolved to stop accumulating and begin the infinitely more serious and difficult task of wise distribution.

I shall argue that strong men, conversely, know when to compromise and that all principles can be compromised to serve a greater principle.

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.

Aim for the highest.

And while the law of competition may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department.

As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.


Concentrate your energies, your thoughts and your capital. The wise man puts all his eggs in one basket and watches the basket.

Concentration is my motto - first honesty, then industry, then concentration.

No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.

People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.

Surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community.

The 'morality of compromise' sounds contradictory. Compromise is usually a sign of weakness, or an admission of defeat. Strong men don't compromise, it is said, and principles should never be compromised.

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Andrew Carnegie Leadership

Other Links

Wikipedia:A highly detailed account of Andrew Carnegie's Life : Carnegie's biography from his official site

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