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101 Inspiring Leadership Quotes (2019 Update)

Inspiring Leadership Quotes

Today I’d like to share 101 of the most thought-provoking, encouraging and motivating leadership quotes from the past few thousands of years.

Because – to me – one of the most fascinating topics in life is the leaders that walked the world before us (and some who are still here) and how they shaped the world.

And what they can teach us about becoming better leaders ourselves at work, in school, in our own businesses and in our private lives.

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

101 Inspiring Leadership Quotes

“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

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

“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!”
Lao-Tsu

“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

“There is no investment you can make which will pay you so well as the effort to scatter sunshine and good cheer through your establishment.”
Orison Swett Marden

“Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”
Vince Lombardi

“Outstanding leaders go out of the way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”
Sam Walton

“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.”
Estée Lauder

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
Woodrow Wilson

“Ninety percent of leadership is the ability to communicate something people want.”
Dianne Feinstein

“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.”
Bill Bradley

“Each group and each youngster is different. As a leader or coach, you get to know what they need.”
Mike Krzyzewski

“A leader is someone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding the potential in people and processes.”
Brené Brown

“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”
Madeleine Albright

“As a leader, it’s a major responsibility on your shoulders to practice the behavior you want others to follow.”
Himanshu Bhatia

“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.”
Warren Bennis

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
Martin Luther King Jr.,

“Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal.”
Walt Disney

“When people talk, listen completely.”
Ernest Hemingway

“The best way to leapfrog in your career is to get advice from someone who’s done what you’re trying to accomplish. It helps clear all the doubt.”
Heather Anne Carson

“I have three precious things, which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.”
Lao-Tzu

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.”
Colin Powell

“Knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
Rosa Parks

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”
Margaret Fuller

“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

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
Peter Drucker

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.”
Ray Kroc

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”
Jack Welch

“People respond well to those that are sure of what they want.”
Anna Wintour

“Servant-leadership is all about making the goals clear and then rolling your sleeves up and doing whatever it takes to help people win. In that situation, they don’t work for you, you work for them.”
Ken Blanchard

“To be a leader, you have to make people want to follow you, and nobody wants to follow someone who doesn’t know where he is going.”
Joe Namath

“Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world.”
Nelson Mandela

“Leaders don't inflict pain, they share pain.”
Max Depree

“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground”.
Theodore Roosevelt

“You don’t have to hold a position in order to be a leader.”
Henry Ford

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Warren Buffett

“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 create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.”
Dolly Parton

“If ‘leadership’ has come to be known as something much bigger than us, aligned to changing the world, then we are spending way too much time celebrating things that hardly anyone can do and not celebrating things we can do every day.”
Drew Dudley

“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”
Dale Carnegie

“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 good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.”
Arnold Glasow

“A lack of realism in the vision today costs credibility tomorrow.”
John C. Maxwell

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
Malala Yousafzai

“True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed… Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.”
Sheryl Sandberg

“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

“Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader.”
George S. Patton

“The things we fear most in organizations–fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances–are the primary sources of creativity.”
Margaret Wheatley

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”
Elon Musk

“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

“Remember, feedback is meant to address the problem, not the person.”
Travis Bradberry

“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”
John Maxwell

“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

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Abraham Lincoln

“Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.”
Tom Landry

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower

“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.”
Seneca

“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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{ 21 comments… add one }
  • 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

    wisdomgettingloaded

  • Linda Wessling

    Could you post more quotes by women on this topic?

  • I loved the topic you wrote on. It was an amazing ride of some great work.

  • My boss Richard Moghadam always tells us we don’t work for him we work with him, he has a phrase I never hear anyone else use but I wanted to share it:

    Do the best you know how, and always make it a point to improve because the kids are watching and that’s how they learn.

    It’s so direct but so true.

  • Interesting!

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