22 Leadership Quotes That Will Inspire You To Greater Heights

From those who’ve been there, done that.


Being a leader in today’s fast-paced, uncertain world is no piece of cake. Each day is filled with dozens of items to trim off the to-do list, figurative fires to extinguish before they turn into revenue-burning monsters, and countless other critical decisions to make that will pretty much determine the success (or failure) of your team.

With so much on your plate, it’s easy to let your personal standards slide, neglecting the behaviours and qualities that made you such a great leader in the first place. And that’s a surefire recipe for disaster. But fret not; these 22 timeless pieces of advice from some of the greatest leaders in history will remind of what it means to lead well, motivate you when times get rough, and inspire you to be the best leader you can be.

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
Peter C. Drucker, the “founder of modern management”

“It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.”
Adlai E. Stevenson II, 31st Governor of Illinois

“It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.”
Albus Dumbledore, former Headmaster of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”
Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the USA

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

“You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the USA

Steve_Jobs_Headshot_2010Steve Jobs. Photo: Wikipedia user Matthew Yohe

“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.”
Steve Jobs, Apple founder

“I have never been over-concerned or obsessed with opinion polls or popularity polls. I think a leader who is, is a weak leader. If you are concerned with whether your rating will go up or down, then you are not a leader. You are just catching the wind … you will go where the wind is blowing. And that’s not what I am in this for.”
Lee Kuan Yew, first Prime Minister of Singapore

“There’s a difference between being a leader and being a boss. Both are based on authority. A boss demands blind obedience; a leader earns his authority through understanding and trust.”
Klaus Balkenhol, coach of the 1992 U.S. Olympic equestrian team

“Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily, even if you had no title or position.”
Brian Tracy, self-help guru

“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, 26th President of the USA

“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, famed singer-songwriter

“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, author of The Little Prince

8374386253_d2ebccca70_oMichael Jordan. Photo: Flickr user Jason H. Smith

“Earn your leadership every day.”
Michael Jordan, basketball legend

“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, former First Lady of the USA

“Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.”
Seth Godin, bestselling author

“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, founder of the Carnegie Mellon University

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.”
Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s

“The role of leadership is to transform the complex situation into small pieces and prioritize them.”
Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of Renault, chairman and CEO of Nissan and chairman of AvtoVAZ

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

Ernest_Hemingway_Aboard_the_Pilar_1935Ernest Hemingway.

“When people talk, listen completely.”
Ernest Hemingway, author of For Whom the Bell Tolls and other literary classics

“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, ancient philosopher and poet

Know a leadership quote that never fails to inspire? Share it with us in the comments below!

Featured image: Flickr user Andy Roth

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