The Best 100 Leadership Quotes of All Time

This article has 100 of the best leadership quotes from historic leaders that could transform the way you lead. Drawing from this inspiration will guide your actions in the direction of your dreams and aspirations.

1. “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 Tzu

2. Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily, even if you had no title or position. —Brian Tracy

3. Where there is no vision, the people perish. —Proverbs 29:18, The Bible

4. 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

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

6. Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. —Winston Churchill

7. “Leadership is not just about giving energy… it’s unleashing other people’s energy.” —Paul Polman

8. “Good leaders build products. Great leaders build cultures. Good leaders deliver results. Great leaders develop people. Good leaders have vision. Great leaders have values. Good leaders are role models at work. Great leaders are role models in life.” —Adam Grant

9. “The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.” —Warren Bennis

10. “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” —Warren Buffett

11. “All leaders are readers.” —Jim Rohn

12. “We need to think of the future and the planet we are going to leave to our children and their children.” —Kofi Annan

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

14. “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” — Stephen R. Covey

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

16. Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. Warren G. Bennis

17. The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership. Harvey S. Firestone

18. Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes. Peter F. Drucker

19. The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them. John Maxwell

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

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

22. Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others. Robert —Louis Stevenson

23. 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

24. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations. Peter F. Drucker

25. “Leadership distilled down to 3 words: Make a difference.” —Robin Sharma

26. “It’s okay to admit what you don’t know. It’s okay to ask for help. And it’s more than okay to listen to the people you lead – in fact, it’s essential.” —Mary Barra

27. “My own definition of leadership is this: the capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.” —General Montgomery

 28. “Leadership should be more participative than directive, more enabling than performing.” —Mary D. Poole

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

30. “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. —Peter F. Drucker

31. A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a

molder of consensus. Martin Luther King Jr.

32. To have long term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way. Pat Riley

33. You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life. Winston Churchill

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

35. A leader is a dealer in hope. —Napoleon Bonaparte

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

37. He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander. —Aristotle

38. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”Ralph Waldo Emerson

39. “Leaders instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals.” —Unknown

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

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

42. If you want to be a leader who attracts quality people, the key is to become a person of quality yourself. – Jim Rohn

43. Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

44. A person who is happy is not because everything is right in his life, He is happy because his attitude towards everything in his life is right. – Sundar Pichai

45. It doesn’t matter when we start. It doesn’t matter where we start. All that matters is that we start. – Simon Sinek

46. 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

47. Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. —General Dwight Eisenhower

48. If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself, and the organization gets pulled up with you. —Indra Nooyi

49. Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems. —Brian Tracy

50. Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. —General George Patton

51. Do what you feel in your heart to be right–for you’ll be criticized anyway. —Eleanor Roosevelt

52. Leadership is a choice, not a position. —Stephen Covey

53. Leadership is an opportunity to serve. It is not a trumpet call to self-importance. —J. Donald Walters

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

55. I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. —Alexander the Great

56. The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. —Amelia Earhart

57. People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. —John Maxwell

58. To lead people, walk beside them. As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence … When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’ —Lao Tzu

59. “Leadership is about the team – the culture they keep and embrace; it’s about empathy for your customers, clients, employees and the communities where you do business; it’s about doing the right thing for the right reasons, being confident enough to take risks and responsible enough to think of those who your decisions and risks may affect.” —Kat Cole

60. “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me?” —Ayn Rand

61. I am reminded how hollow the label of leadership sometimes is and how heroic followership can be. —Warren Bennis

62. I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody. —Herbert Swope

63. If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities. —Maya Angelou

64. Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or conclude you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. —Colin Powell

65. Earn your leadership every day. —Michael Jordan

66. If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing. —Benjamin Franklin

67. Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes. – Peter F. Drucker

68. To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart. —Eleanor Roosevelt

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

70. “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.” —Sara Blakely

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

72. The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. —Dwight D. Eisenhower

73. It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself. —Latin Proverb

74. “Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” —Bill Bradley, American politician and former professional basketball player

75. “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” —Ronald Reagan

76. Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be led. —Ross Perot

77. Integrity is the most valuable and respected quality of leadership. Always keep your word. —Brian Tracy

78. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle

79. “Leadership is a series of behaviors rather than a role for heroes.” —Margaret Wheatley

80. “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” —Kurt Vonnegut

81. Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them. —John C. Maxwell

82. 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

83. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better. —K. Rowling

84. 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

85. Leaders instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals. Unknown

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

87. The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership. —Harvey Firestone

88. To have long term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way. —Pat Riley

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

90. “Leaders walk a fine line between self-confidence and humility.” —Stanley McChrystal

91. “Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.” —Orrin Woodward

92. “Leadership is something you earn, something you’re chosen for. You can’t come in yelling, ‘I’m your leader!’ If it happens, it’s because the other guys respect you.” —Ben Roethlisberger

93. “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

94. You have to be willing to be misunderstood if you’re going to innovate. — Jeff Bezos

95. Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50 percent of your time in leading yourself–your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20 percent leading those with authority over you and 15 percent leading your peers. —Dee Hock

96. Being a good listener is absolutely critical to being a good leader; you have to listen to the people who are on the front line. – Richard Branson

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

98. “One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” —Arnold Glasow

99. Whatever you are, be a good one. —Abraham Lincoln

100. I think one of the keys to leadership is recognizing that everybody has gifts and talents. A good leader will learn how to harness those gifts toward the same goal. —Ben Carson

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Tumisang Bogwasi
Tumisang Bogwasi

2X Award-Winning Entrepreneur | Empowering Brands to Generate Leads, Grow Revenue with Business Strategy and Digital Marketing | Founder, CEO of Fine Group