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50 Inspiring Leadership Quotes

One of the more fascinating topics of life is the leaders that walked the world before us – and some who are still here – and how they shaped the world.

So in this article I’d like to share 50 of the thought-provoking, motivating and practical quotes from the past few thousands of years on leadership.

I hope you’ll find something helpful and inspiring here.

  1. “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.”
    John Buchan
  2. “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
    Theodore Roosevelt
  3. “To lead people, walk beside them … As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate … When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!”
  4. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
    Harold R. McAlindon
  5. “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
  6. “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulder of giants.”
    Isaac Newton
  7. “He who has great power should use it lightly.”
  8. “I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times.”
    Everett Dirksen
  9. “Leadership: the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
    Dwight D. Eisenhower
  10. “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
    Jack Welch
  11. “Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent of how I react to it.”
    Charles Swindoll
  12. “Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.”
    Brian Tracy
  13. “In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
    Eric Hoffer
  14. “The price of greatness is responsibility.”
    Winston Churchill
  15. “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?”
    Benjamin Disraeli
  16. “What you do has far greater impact than what you say.”
    Stephen Covey
  17. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
    Maya Angelou
  18. “Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.”
    Albert Schweitzer
  19. “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.”
    Peter Drucker
  20. “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.“
    Eleanor Roosevelt
  21. “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
    John Maxwell
  22. “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
    John F. Kennedy
  23. “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 De Pree
  24. “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
    Thomas Jefferson
  25. “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
  26. “Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.”
    Brian Tracy
  27. “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”
    John Maxwell
  28. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
    John Quincy Adams
  29. “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure: which is: Try to please everybody.”
    Herbert B. Swope
  30. “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.”
    Stephen Covey
  31. “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
  32. “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”
    Kenneth Blanchard
  33. “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
  34. “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.”
    Publilius Syrus
  35. “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
  36. “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  37. “Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead.”
    Ross Perot
  38. “The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground.”
    Sir Winston Churchill
  39. “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
  40. “The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”
    Theodore M. Hesburgh
  41. “I think leadership comes from integrity – that you do whatever you ask others to do. I think there are non-obvious ways to lead. 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
  42. “A cowardly leader is the most dangerous of men.”
    Stephen King
  43. “The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say “I.” And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say “I.” They don’t think “I.” They think “we”; they think “team.” They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but “we” gets the credits. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.”
    Peter Drucker
  44. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
    Steve Jobs
  45. “You manage things; you lead people. “
    Grace Murray Hopper
  46. “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”
    Stephen Covey
  47. “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
  48. “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
    Bill Gates
  49. “It is impossible to imagine anything which better becomes a ruler than mercy.”
  50. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
    Margaret Mead
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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Nice selection. I like the one stated by John Quincy Adams. It really speaks much about a great leader who influences others with his good works.

  • Great quotes.

    This one is my favorite: “Leadership: the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
    Dwight D. Eisenhower

  • Thanks a lot for the comments. And I may be changing the Wordpress-theme later on.

  • Thanks for the inspiration — I love the one by Emerson. To me that strikes at the heart of what personal development is: Knowing what we could be (as much as knowing what we are already ;))

  • Neha Chauhan

    All the quotes r really good ones.But according to my information the following quote:
    “Do not follow where the path may lead.
    Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
    was said by Ralph Waldo Emerson not by Harold R. McAlindon

  • Thanks you for sharing the beautiful Quotes,

    To your success,

    Tracy Ho


  • Linda Wessling

    Could you post more quotes by women on this topic?