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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.

“The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.”
John Buchan

“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

“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!”

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Harold R. McAlindon

“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

“If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulder of giants.”
Isaac Newton

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“He who has great power should use it lightly.”

“I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times.”
Everett Dirksen

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

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
Jack Welch

“Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent of how I react to it.”
Charles Swindoll

“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.”
Brian Tracy

“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

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”
Winston Churchill

“I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?”
Benjamin Disraeli

“What you do has far greater impact than what you say.”
Stephen Covey

“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

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.”
Albert Schweitzer

“Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.”
Peter Drucker

“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

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
John Maxwell

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
John F. Kennedy

“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

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
Thomas Jefferson

“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

“Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.”
Brian Tracy

“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”
John Maxwell

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
John Quincy Adams

“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

“Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.”
Stephen Covey

“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

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”
Kenneth Blanchard

“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

“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.”
Publilius Syrus

“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

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead.”
Ross Perot

“The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground.”
Sir Winston Churchill

“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

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet.”
Theodore M. Hesburgh

“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

“A cowardly leader is the most dangerous of men.”
Stephen King

“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

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
Steve Jobs

“You manage things; you lead people. “
Grace Murray Hopper

“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”
Stephen Covey

“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

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
Bill Gates

“It is impossible to imagine anything which better becomes a ruler than mercy.”

“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?