72 Amazing Leadership Quotes That Will Inspire You To Be Great

Jim Harkless

How are you leading teams and others? When you’re in the trenches of leading teams and others, it’s hard to know the right answer. And it’s easy to lose your motivation while wading through the details. No one knows your situation quite like you do. In this post, you’ll find powerful leadership quotes from business leaders, artists, philosophers and national leaders.

72 Amazing Leadership Quotes That Will Inspire You To Be Great

leadership quotes -- stephen covey

“What you do has far greater impact than what you say.” – Stephen Covey, author and educator

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

“Ninety percent of leadership is the ability to communicate something people want.” – Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senator

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

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft

“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, investor

“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, founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club

“One of the most important things for any leader is to never let anyone else define who you are. And you define who you are. I never think of myself as being a woman CEO of this company. I think of myself as a steward of a great institution.” – Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM

“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, founder of Disney

“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, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter F. Drucker, author and educator

“You don’t have to hold a position in order to be a leader.” – Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company

leadership quotes -- steve jobs

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” – Vince Lombardi, legendary Green Bay Packers coach

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

“To have long term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way.” – Pat Riley, President of the Miami Heat and former Lakers coach

“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.” – J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series

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

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” – Chuck Swindoll, Christian pastor and radio preacher

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” – Michael Jordan, Hall of Fame basketball superstar

leadership quotes -- mother teresa

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” – Max Lucado, Christian author and preacher

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” – Mother Teresa, Catholic nun and saint

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady of the United States

“Knowing what must be done does away with fear.” – Rosa Parks, civil rights activist

“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground”. – Theodore Roosevelt, former U.S. President

“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, former Dallas Cowboys coach

“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, former U.S. President

“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, former U.S. Secretary of State

leadership quotes -- joe dimaggio

“A person always doing his or her best becomes a natural leader, just by example.” – Joe DiMaggio, former New York Yankees outfielder & Hall of Fame Baseball Player

“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” Henry Kissinger, former U.S. National Security Advisor and Secretary of State

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” – Gen. Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State

“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 United States

“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, former New York Jets quarterback

“If you don’t believe in yourself, why is anyone else going to believe in you.” – Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback

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

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

leadership quotes -- woodrow wilson

“If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”– Woodrow Wilson, former U.S. President

“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, former king of Macedonia

“In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” – Harry Truman, former U.S. President

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

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” – Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy, former U.S. President

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

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.” – Mahatma Gandhi, Indian independence movement leader

“A leader is a dealer in hope.” – Napoleon Bonaparte, French military leader and emperor

“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, founder of Day One Leadership

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” —Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father and former U.S. President

“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, economist and diplomat

leadership quotes -- nelson mandela

“A leader. . .is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.” – Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama, former U.S. President

“There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.” – Indira Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India

“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.” – Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

“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, former U.S. President

“Do you know that one of the great problems of our age is that we are governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas?” – Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

“There is a troublesome humor some men have, that if they may not lead, they will not follow; but had rather a thing were never done, than not done their own way, tho’ other ways very desirable.” – William Penn, early Quaker and founder of Pennsylvania

“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, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” – Mark Twain, writer

leadership quotes -- maya angelou

“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, poet and civil rights activist

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein, physicist

“Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” – Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States

“I learned that things are never as complicated as we imagine them to be. It is only our arrogance which seeks to find complicated answers to simple problems.” – Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Winner

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle, Greek philosopher

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet and essayist

“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.” – Edward R. Murrow, American broadcast journalist

“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, Chinese philosopher

leadership quotes -- leonardo da vinci

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci, scientist, artist, astronomer, and mathematician

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” – Amelia Earhart, American aviation pioneer

“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, singer and songwriter

“The best is he who calls men to the best. And those who heed the call are also blessed. But worthless who call not, heed not, but rest.” – Hesiod, 8th Century BC Greek poet

“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, author and journalist

“He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command.” – Niccolò Machiavelli, philosopher and writer

“If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself and the organization gets pulled up with you.” – Indra Nooyi, Pepsi CEO

leadership quotes indra nooyi pepsi

Which of these leadership quotes work best for you and your team?

Which leaders and ideas resonate with you?

Where do you need to make changes?

Use these leadership quotes for your next team meeting, company retreat or presentation as a jumping off point for how you are leading others in your teams or organizations.

Like this? Take a look at these powerful planning quotes.

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