Cool Quotes on Leadership

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Great quotes on leadership can provide personal inspiration and can be used to help motivate, educate and elevate others to new levels of success.  Even the most polished leaders can use some inspiration from time to time. Take a minute out of your busy day to enjoy these words of wisdom from some of the greatest leaders known:

 

  • No general can fight his battles alone. He must depend upon his lieutenants, and his success depends upon his ability to select the right man for the right place. -Philip Armour
  • You manage things; you lead people. —Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
  • A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. —Lao Tzu
  • The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet. – Theodore M. Hesburgh
  • Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall. — Stephen R. Covey
  • Don’t necessarily avoid sharp edges. Occasionally they are necessary to leadership. —Donald Rumsfeld
  • Great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather by the presence of clear strengths. —John Zenger
  • People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. —John Maxwell
  • No man can stand on top because he is put there. -H. H. Vreeland
  • Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for? – – William J. Bennett
  • Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results. ~ George S. Patton
  • Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. —Publilius Syrus
  • True leadership lies in guiding others to success. In ensuring that everyone is performing at their best, doing the work they are pledged to do and doing it well. —Bill Owens
  • People will not follow you if they do not trust you, and before someone will lend you a hand, you must first touch their heart. -Robin Sharma
  • A highly credible leader under-promises and over-delivers. -John Maxwell
  • Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out. —Stephen Covey
  • A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better. -Jim Rohn
  • A leader is a dealer in hope. —Napoleon Bonaparte
  • If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. —John Quincy Adams
  • There is always room for a man of force and he makes room for many. Society is a troop of thinkers and the best heads among them take the best places. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • A leader is someone who believes in you and gets you to believe in yourself.
  • The best leaders are humble enough to realize their victories depend upon their people. -John Maxwell
  • Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • My own definition of leadership is this: The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence. —General Montgomery
  • As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others. – Bill Gates
  • We live in a society obsessed with public opinion. But leadership has never been about popularity. —Marco Rubio
  • Delegating work works, provided the one delegating works, too. -Robert Half
  • All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership. —John Kenneth Galbraith
  • To add value to others, one must first value others. – John Maxwell
  • Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. —General George Patton
  • The leader has to be practical and a realist yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist. —Eric Hoffer
  • To command is to serve, nothing more and nothing less. —Andre Malraux
  • The question Who ought to be boss is like as Who ought to be the tenor in the quartet? Obviously, the man who can sing tenor. –Henry Ford
  • If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities. —Maya Angelou
  • Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand. —General Colin Powell
  • Many people would rather you heard their story than granted their request.
  • Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better. —Bill Bradley
  • You don’t need a title to be a leader. –Multiple Attributions
  • Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in. -Andrew Jackson
  • What you do has far greater impact than what you say. —Stephen Covey
  • Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish. – Sam Walton
  • Example is not the main thing in influencing others; it is the only thing. — Albert Schweitzer
  • The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground. —Sir Winston Churchill
  • A boss says, Go! A leader says, Let’s go! — E.M. Kelly
  • A bold onset is half the battle. -Giuseppe Garibaldi
  • If you don’t understand that you work for your mislabeled ‘subordinates,’ then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny. — Dee Hock
  • To do great things is difficult; but to command great things is more difficult. —Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Rely on your own strength of body and soul. Take for your star self-reliance, faith, honesty and industry. Don’t take too much advice — keep at the helm and steer your own ship, and remember that the great art of commanding is to take a fair share of the work. Fire above the mark you intend to hit. Energy, invincible determination with the right motive, are the levers that move the world. -Noah Porter
  • The world of the 1990s and beyond will not belong to ‘managers’ or those who can make the numbers dance. The world will belong to passionate, driven leaders – people who not only have enormous amounts of energy but who can energize those whom they lead. Jack Welch
  • The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. — Ralph Nader
  • A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not. -Author Unknown
  • Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy. —Norman Schwarzkopf
  • The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it. -Theodore Roosevelt
  • The people follow the example of those above them. -Chinese Proverb
  • What’s troubling is the gap between our challenges and the smallness of our politics — the ease with which we are distracted by petty and the trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our seeming inability to build a working consensus to tackle any big problem. Barack Obama
  • The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. —Max DePree
  • When I give a minister an order, I leave it to him to find the means to carry it out. —Napoleon Bonaparte
  • To be able to lead others, a man must be willing to go forward alone. — Harry Truman
  • Most people who want to get ahead do it backward. They think, ‘I’ll get a bigger job, then I’ll learn how to be a leader.’ But showing leadership skill is how you get the bigger job in the first place. -John Maxwell
  • The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet. —Reverend Theodore Hesburgh
  • I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody. —Herbert Swope
  • Great leaders are teachers not tyrants. They help their followers see and understand more. The inspire them to become more and motivate them to do more.
  • It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself. (Absurdum est ut alios regat, qui seipsum regere nescit.) -Latin Proverb
  • Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Harold R. McAlindon
  • Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them. —John C. Maxwell
  • What chance gathers she easily scatters. A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together. -Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
  • Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader. -George S. Patton
  • The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men, the conviction and the will to carry on. —Walter Lippman
  • Credibility is a leader’s currency. With it, he or she is solvent; without it, he or she is bankrupt. -John Maxwell
  • So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work. —Peter Drucker
  • Great leaders are lifetime learners. They turn every success, setback and failure into a lesson that will guide them in the future.
  • Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing. —Tom Peters
  • I’ve never found an important decision made by a great organization that was made at a point of unanimity. Significant decisions carry risks and inevitably some will oppose it. In these settings, the great legislative leader must be artful in handling uncomfortable decisions, and this requires rigor. -Jim Collins
  • I am endlessly fascinated that playing football is considered a training ground for leadership, but raising children isn’t. —Dee Dee Myers
  • My responsibility is getting all my players playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back. –Unknown
  • Those who let things happen usually lose to those who make things happen. – Dave Weinbaum
  • As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others. —Bill Gates
  • A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent. —Douglas MacArthur
  • Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position. —Brian Tracy
  • Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself. —Latin Proverb
  • In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” — Harry Truman
  • Authority without wisdom is like a heavy ax without an edge — fitter to bruise than polish. — Anne Bradstreet, (1612-1672)
  • I am reminded how hollow the label of leadership sometimes is and how heroic followership can be. —Warren Bennis
  • In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing. – Theodore Roosevelt
  • A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together. —Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
  • Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. —Warren Bennis
  • The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly. —Jim Rohn
  • The real leader has no need to lead–he is content to point the way. -Henry Miller
  • There are three essentials to leadership: humility, clarity and courage. —Fuchan Yuan
  • Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way. — General George Patton
  • The supreme quality of leadership is integrity. –Dwight Eisenhower
  • Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow. —Chinese Proverb
  • If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing. —Benjamin Franklin
  • The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes. —Tony Blair
  • If you wish others to believe in you, you must first convince them that you believe in them.
  • The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership. — Harvey S. Firestone
  • Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. – Thomas Jefferson
  • You don’t lead by hitting people over the head—that’s assault, not leadership. –Dwight Eisenhower
  • A leader is anyone who uses authority, reason, fear, inspiration, charisma or personal example to influence the behavior or beliefs of others. Effective leaders formulate their objectives and influence others to achieve them. Principled leaders adhere to moral and ethical principles in forming their objectives as well as their use of the methods of influence. Michael Josephson
  • Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. — Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be. —Rosalynn Carter
  • He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander. —Aristotle
  • Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. – John Fitzgerald Kennedy
  • Do what you feel in your heart to be right–for you’ll be criticized anyway. —Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Great leaders are principled; they are not merely effective, they are ethical. They adhere to moral principles in forming their objectives and using the methods of influence. They engender trust and credibility because of their integrity and loyalty and because they care about their followers and treat them with respect.
  • Leadership does not always wear the harness of compromise. —Woodrow Wilson
  • High sentiments always win in the end, The leaders who offer blood, toil, tears and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic. — George Orwell
  • Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston Churchill
  • When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that person is crazy. — Dave Barry
  • The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it. — Lord Thomas Macaulay
  • There is no power on earth that can neutralize the influence of a high, simple, and useful life. — Booker T. Washington
  • To have long term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way. —Pat Riley
  • Education is the mother of leadership. —Wendell Willkie
  • Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. — Jack Welch
  • A real leader has the ability to motivate others to their highest level of achievement; then gives them the opportunity and the freedom to grow. -Buck Rodgers
  • Be known for pleasing others, espcecially if you govern them…Ruling others has one advantage: you can do more good than anyone else. -Baltasar Gracián
  • Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. -Peter Drucker
  • No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it. —Andrew Carnegie
  • You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do. —Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Great leaders derive no pleasure from asserting their power and they use their authority sparingly. They rely more on inspiration and persuasion than coercion, but they are not hesitant to use their power when necessary to assure that everyone is doing what needs to be done.
  • Leadership is action, not position. — Donald H. McGannon
  • Let him who would be moved to convince others, be first moved to convince himself. -Thomas Carlyle
  • Great leadership is about human experiences. It’s not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine. — Lance Secretan
  • Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. —John F. Kennedy
  • Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it, and it will go nowhere at all. ~ Dwight Eisenhower
  • A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position. —John Maxwell
  • A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent. —Douglas MacArthur
  • Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself. — Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM
  • You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case. —Ken Kesey
  • Leadership is defined by results not attributes. -Peter Drucker
  • The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind in others the conviction and will to carry on.” – Walter Lippman
  • Misfortunes, untoward events, lay open, disclose the skill of a general, while success conceals his weakness, his weak points. -Horace
  • In this world a man must either be an anvil or hammer. -Henry W. Longfellow
  • The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. —Theodore Roosevelt
  • Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems. —Brian Tracy
  • Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. —Harry S. Truman
  • The power is detested, and miserable the life, of him who wishes to be feared rather than to be loved. -Cornelius Nepos
  • To be a great leader and so always master of the situation, one must of necessity have been a great thinker in action. An eagle was never yet hatched from a goose’s egg. -James Thomas
  • The greatest leaders mobilize others by coalescing people around a shared vision. —Ken Blanchard
  • A bold beginning is half the battle. Giuseppe Garibaldi
  • The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born. Warren Bennis
  • Earn your leadership every day. –Michael Jordan
  • A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see. – Leroy Eimes
  • I must follow the people. Am I not their leader? —Benjamin Disraeli
  • It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. —Nelson Mandela
  • Leaders keep their eyes on the horizon, not just on the bottom line. -Warren Bennis
  • To lead people, walk behind them. – Lao Tzu
  • A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd. —Max Lucado
  • One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency. —Arnold Glasow
  • What you cannot enforce / Do not command. -Sophocles
  • Never give an order that can’t be obeyed. —General Douglas MacArthur
  • Leadership comes from integrity. You must do whatever you ask others to do. Just by providing a good example as a parent, a friend, a neighbor makes it possible for other people to see better ways to do things. Leadership does not need to be a dramatic, fist in the air and trumpets blaring, activity. — Scott Berkun
  • Leaders aren’t born; they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal. —Vince Lombardi
  • In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is. – Yogi Berra
  • A competent leader can get efficient service from poor troops, while on the contrary an incapable leader can demoralize the best of troops. —John J Pershing
  • Leadership cannot just go along to get along. Leadership must meet the moral challenge of the day. —Jesse Jackson
  • Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead. — Ross Perot
  • Great leaders have an unusual bone structure. They have strong back bones and well-developed wish bones and funny bones.
  • Ill can he rule the great that cannot reach the small. -Edmund Spenser
  • Great leaders don’t repress or replace the values of their followers; they respect them and they enhance and energize those values focusing them toward the leader’s vision.
  • As a leader, you’re probably not doing a good job unless your employees can do a good impression of you when you’re not around. — Patrick Lencioni
  • Leaders conceive and articulate goals that lift people out of their petty preoccupations and unite them in pursuit of objectives worthy of their best efforts. — John Gardner
  • Where there is no vision, the people perish. —Proverbs 29:18
  • Great communication depends on two simple skills—context, which attunes a leader to the same frequency as his or her audience, and delivery, which allows a leader to phrase messages in a language the audience can understand. -John Maxwell
  • Great leaders are both idealistic and realistic. They have great goals. They seek to close the gap between what is and what can be but they have no illusions that success is either certain or simple. They consider the past and evaluate the present so they can create the future.
  • I think that the best training a top manager can be engaged in is management by example. I want to make sure there is no discrepancy between what we say and what we do. If you preach accountability and then promote somebody with bad results, it doesn’t work. — Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault-Nissan
  • A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worse when they despise him. But of a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves. ~ Lao-Tzu
  • No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent. —Abraham Lincoln
  • I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. —Ralph Nader
  • Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes. —Peter Drucker
  • There go my people. I must find out where they are going so I can lead them. — Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin
  • A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. —John Maxwell
  • A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done. -Ralph Nader
  • A good general not only sees the way to victory; he also knows when victory is impossible. —Polybius
  • Vision comes alive when everyone sees where his or her contribution makes a difference. J-ohn Maxwell
  • A general is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him. -General Douglas MacArthur
  • A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. –George Patton
  • Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion. -Jack Welch
  • No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings. – Peter Drucker
  • A company is stronger if it is bound by love rather than by fear. – Herb Kelleher
  • The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born. —Warren Bennis
  • The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes. -Tony Blair
  • A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. – Henry Adams
  • One of the greatest talents of all is the talent to recognize and to develop talent in others. -General Colin Powell
  • Men are governed only by serving them; the rule is without exception. -V. Cousin
  • Leadership is the key to 99 percent of all successful efforts. —Erskine Bowles
  • A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit. — John C. Maxwell
  • Not everyone agrees that leadership can be taught but all know that leadership can be learned. -Michael Josephson
  • The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership. – Harvey S. Firestone
  • A ruler should be slow to punish and swift to reward. —Ovid
  • It’s possible to get people to do what you want through force or fear but that’s not leadership. Michael Josephson
  • Whatever you are, be a good one. —Abraham Lincoln
  • Great leaders earn, exude and instill confidence without being arrogant. They also empower their followers with confidence and pride.
  • The leader must know, must know that he knows, and must be able to make it abundantly clear to those around him that he knows. — Clarence Randall
  • Leadership is the ability to establish standards and manage a creative climate where people are self-motivated toward the mastery of long term constructive goals, in a participatory environment of mutual respect, compatible with personal values. — Mike Vance
  • In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. —Thomas Jefferson
  • I am more afraid of an army of one hundred sheep led by a lion than an army of one hundred lions led by a sheep. -Charles Maurice
  • He who has great power should use it lightly. —Seneca
  • Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. — Margaret Mead
  • Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. —Colin Powell
  • Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. —General Dwight Eisenhower
  • He who has learned how to obey will know how to command. —Solon
  • The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. —Kenneth Blanchard
  • In the past a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be partners with their people… they no longer can lead solely based on positional power. -John Maxwell
  • Learn to see things backwards, inside out, and upside down. -John Heider, Tao of Leadership
  • A cowardly leader is the most dangerous of men. —Stephen King
  • Leadership is influence. —John C. Maxwell
  • The greater a man is in power above others, the more he ought to excel them in virtue. None ought to govern who is not better than the governed. -Publilius Syrus
  • It is impossible to imagine anything which better becomes a ruler than mercy. -Seneca
  • Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations. — Peter F. Drucker
  • Go to the people. Learn from them. Live with them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. The best of leaders when the job is done, when the task is accomplished, the people will say we have done it ourselves. -Lao Tzu
  • The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny … it is the light that guides your way.” – Heraclitus

Quotes on Leadership

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