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Leadership Quotes

Welcome to the leadership quotes section of the web site. On this page I list interesting and/or insightful quotations on the subject of leadership…

“People ask the difference between a leader and a boss? The leader works in the open, and the boss in covert. The leader leads, and the boss drives.”
– Theodore Roosevelt

“Leadership can be thought of as a capacity to define oneself to others in a way that clarifies and expands a vision of the future.”
– Edwin H. Friedman

“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”
– George S. Patton


(Photo Credit: familymwr)

“It is not so much that man is a herd animal, said Freud, but that he is a horde animal led by a chief.”
– Ernest Becker

“I never had much faith in leaders. I am willing to be charged with almost anything, rather than to be charged with being a leader. I am suspicious of leaders, and especially of the intellectual variety. Give me the rank and file every day in the week. If you go to the city of Washington, and you examine the pages of the Congressional Directory, you will End that almost all of those corporation lawyers and cowardly politicians, members of Congress, and mis representatives of the masses you will find that almost all of them claim, in glowing terms, that they have risen from the ranks to places of eminence and distinction. I am very glad I cannot make that claim for myself. I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks.”
– Eugene V. Debs

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

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude about it.”
– Maya Angelou

“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.”
– Roslynn Carter

“Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the worId’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.”
– Susan B. Anthony

“To be a leader, you must stand for something, or you will fall for anything.”
– Anthony Pagano

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision.”
– Theodore Hesburgh

“You who are journalists, writers, citizens, you have the right and duty to say to those you have elected that they must practice mindfulness, calm and deep listening, and loving speech. This is universal thing, taught by all religions.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

And yet more leadership quotations…

“If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.”
– Tom Peters

“It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies.”
– Noam Chomsky

“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

“Leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it.”
– John Naisbitt

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

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”
– Abraham Lincoln

“South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu walked by a construction site on a temporary sidewalk the width of one person. A white man appeared at the other end, recognized Tutu, and said, “I don’t make way for gorillas.” At which Tutu stepped aside, made a deep sweeping gesture, and said, “Ah, yes, but I do.”
– Walter Wink

“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”
– Ralph Nader

“Great minds have purposes; others have wishes.”
– Washington Irving

“Leadership is not manifested by coercion, even against the resented. Greatness is not manifested by unlimited pragmatism, which places such a high premium on the end justifying any means and any measures.”
– Margaret Chase Smith

“When leaders take back power, when they act as heroes and saviors, they end up exhausted, overwhelmed, and deeply stressed.”
– Margaret J. Wheatley

“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.”
– Walter Lipmann

“Leadership is influence.”
– John C.Maxwell

“Leadership can be thought of as a capacity to define oneself to others in a way that clarities and expands a vision of the future.”
– Edwin H. Friedman

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
– Muriel Strode

“Inventories can be managed, but people must be led.”
– H.Ross Perot

“A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.”
– Henrik Ibsen

“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

“A leader must have the courage to act against an expert?s advice.”
– James Callaghan

“Divorced from ethics, leadership is reduced to management and politics to mere technique.”
– James MacGregor Burns

“A leader or a man of action in a crisis almost always acts subconsciously and then thinks of the reasons for his action.”
– Jawaharlal Nehru

“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-Tze

“Time is neutral and does not change things. With courage and initiative, leaders change things.”
– Jesse Jackson

“The day you are not solving problems or are not up to your butt in problems is probably a day you are no longer leading.”
– Colin Powell

Colin Powell

“But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”
– Carl Sagan

“Respect the man and he will do more.”
– James Howell

“Contrary to the old saying that leaders are born not made, the art of leading can be taught and it can be mastered.”
– General Mark W. Clark

“If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you. If you really make them think, they’ll hate you.”
– Don Marquis

Leadership Quotes by Eric Hoffer

“In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

“The leader must be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist.”

Leadership Quotes by Stephen Covey

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

“Effective leadership is the only competitive advantage that will endure. That’s because leadership has two sides – what a person is (character) and what a person does (competence).”

Leadership Quotes by John Maxwell

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.”

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

Leadership Quotes by Dwight D. Eisenhower

“You do not lead by hitting people over the head that’s assault, not leadership.”

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

Leadership Quotes by Peter F. Drucker

“Leaders shouldn’t attach moral significance to their ideas: Do that, and you can’t compromise.”

“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 credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.”

“What is the manager’s job? It is to direct the resources and the efforts of the business toward opportunities for economically significant results. This sounds trite and it is. But every analysis of actual allocation of resources and efforts in business that I have ever seen or made showed clearly that the bulk of time, work, attention, and money first goes to problems rather than to opportunities, and, secondly, to areas where even extraordinarily successful performance will have minimal impact on results.”

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

“Leadership is not magnetic personality – that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’ – that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a persons performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”

Leadership Quotes by Faye Wattleton

“Whoever is providing leadership needs to be as fresh and thoughtful and reflective as possible to make the very best fight.”

“The only safe ship in a storm is leadership.”

Leadership Quotes by John Gardner

“Pity the leader caught between unloving critics and uncritical lovers.”

“Most important, leaders can conceive and articulate goals that lift people out of their petty preoccupations and unite them in pursuit of objectives worthy of their best efforts.”

Leadership Quotes by John Quincy Adams

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

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

Leadership Quotes by Warren Bennis

“The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.”

“The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.”

“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.”

“Becoming a leader is not easy, just as becoming a doctor or a poet isn’t easy, and anyone who claims otherwise is fooling himself.”

Leadership Quotes by Albert Einstein

“Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.”

“When the solution is simple, God is answering.”

Leadership Quotes by James Kouzes and Barry Posner

“There’s nothing more demoralizing than a leader who can’t clearly articulate why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

“You must unite your constituents around a common cause and connect with them as human beings.”

More Quotes About Leadership

More inspirational or simply interesting quotes about leadership.

“Leadership is making happen what wouldn’t happen anyway and this always entails working at the edge of what is acceptable.”
– Richard Pascale

“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

quotes about leadership

(Photo Credit: Romain Ballez)

“Leadership is the art of mobilising others to want to struggle for shared aspirations.”
– James Kouzes and Barry Posner

“A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.”
– Ralph Lauren

“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

“The speed of the leader determines the rate of the pack.”
– Wayne Lukas

“The very essence of leadership is its purpose. And the purpose of leadership is to accomplish a task. That is what leadership does – and what it does is more important than what it is or how it works.”
– Dandridge M. Malone

“Popularity is not leadership.”
– Richard Marcinko

The most important quality of a leader is that of being acknowledged as such.”
– Andre Maurois

“The secret of a leader lies in the tests he has faced over the whole course of his life and the habit of action he develops in meeting those tests.”
– Gail Sheehy

“Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there; they cause change. They motivate and inspire others to go in the right direction and they, along with everyone else sacrifice to get there.”
– John Kotter

“Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.”
– Harold Geneen

“Leadership appears to be the art of getting others to want to do something you are convinced should be done.”
– Vance Packard

“One of the test of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.”
– John Glasgow

“The best leaders are those most interested in surrounding themselves with assistants and associates smarter than they are. They are frank in admitting this and are willing to pay for such talents.”
– Amos Parrish

“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”
– George S. Patton

“Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.”
– Thomas J. Peters

“You cannot be a leader, and ask other people to follow you, unless you know how to follow, too.”
– Sam Rayburn

“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

And To Finish A Few Leadership Poems…

leadership poems

(Photo Credit: Pascal Maramis)

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Do more than exist — live,
Do more than touch — feel,
Do more than look — observe,
Do more than read — absorb,
Do more than hear — listen,
Do more than listen — understand.
– John H. Rhoades

The leader teaches more through being than through doing.
The quality of ones silence conveys more than long speeches.
– John Hedier

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