Leadership Quotes

Most popular leadership quotes

People don't believe what you tell them. They rarely believe what you show them. They often believe what their friends tell them. They always believe what they tell themselves. What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves. Stories about the future and about change.

human nature persuasion

A leader is a dealer in hope.


Consensus is the negation of leadership.


I must follow them, for I am their leader.
I'm their leader, I've got to follow them!
He that would be a leader must be a bridge.
— Welsh proverb

proverbs Welsh proverbs

What a rope of sand we are without a leader.
Tis skill, not strength, that governs a ship.
Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.


The speed of the leader is the speed of the pack.
— Yukon saying


The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang.
The leader's style pulls rather than pushes people.
Reason and judgement are the qualities of a leader.
The Act of consensus is the negation of leadership.


He who aims
to keep abreast
is forever
second best.

business management

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

ambition drive enthusiasm

When you soar like an eagle, you attract the hunters.


To command is to serve, nothing more and nothing less.
To be a leader of men one must turn one's back on men.
The thoughtless strong man is the chief among lazy men.
— African proverb

African proverbs proverbs

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
The speed of the leader determines the rate of the pack.

business management

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

imagination innovation

I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow.


A prince who is not wise himself will never take good advice.


The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.
If you're a leader, you don't push wet spaghetti, you pull it.
And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
— The Bible—Matthew 15:14


My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.


The real leader has no need to lead—he is content to point the way.
Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.


Every leader, to become a true leader, has to be, above all, a witness.
Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men-the other 999 follow women.
I will do my best. That is all I can do. I ask for your help - and God's.
The history of the world's great leaders is often the story of human folly.


A leader knows what's best to do; a manager knows merely how best to do it.


One measure of leadership is the caliber of people who choose to follow you.
True leadership and the source of its authority is an existential experience.
You do not lead by hitting people over the head—that's assault, not leadership.
The difference between government and leadership is that leadership has a soul.
You do not lead by hitting people over the head. That's assault, not leadership.
A leader who keeps his ear to the ground allows his rear end to become a target.


Leadership means making choices and then rallying the team around those choices.
You don't lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership.
Political leaders are never leaders. For leaders we have to look to the Awakeners!
Life is like a dog-sled team. If you ain't the lead dog, the scenery never changes.
We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.

men and women power women

The most successful leader of all is one who sees another picture not yet actualized.
Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
To be a leader in this company, your job is to find the rose petals in a field of shit.
Knowledge cannot make us all leaders, but it can help us decide which leader to follow.
— Management Digest


The capacity to create a compelling vision and translate it into action and sustain it.


Good leadership consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people.
Wise are those who learn that the bottom line doesn't always have to be their top priority.

business management

Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.
We can't all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by.
Absolute identity with one's cause is the first and great condition of successful leadership.
I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.
No person can be a great leader unless he takes genuine joy in the successes of those under him.

managing people

The leader who exercises power with honour will work from the inside out, starting with himself.


I am more afraid of an army of 100 sheep led by a lion than an army of 100 lions led by a sheep.
My approach is to lead with a sense of purpose and pride in what we do, not envy or combativeness.
One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.


They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
— Matthew 15:14


The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet.

confidence vision

Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.

managing people

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
Leaders have relentlessly high standards – many people may think these standards are unreasonably high.

high standards

A leader is a man who has the ability to get other people to do what they don't want to do and like it.


Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.
When a leader is in the Democratic Party he's the boss; when he's in the Republican Party he's a leader.
Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.

business management managing people

Constraints are real and will always be with us, but leaders are the champions of overcoming constraints.
The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.
The first principle is to compete vigorously and with passion in the face of uncertainty and intimidation.
Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.

management managing people

The man who does something under orders is not unhappy; he is unhappy who does something against his will.

management power

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


Leadership to me means duty, honour, country. It means character, and it means listening from time to time.
Greatness is always built on this foundation: the ability to appear, speak and act, as the most common man.


A leader who rides to war is always having applause; a leader who rides to peace is always being criticized.


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


The great leaders are like the best conductors—they reach beyond the notes to reach the magic in the players.


Leaders are people we as followers want to regard with awe as the fullest flowering of our own possibilities.
Nothing so conclusively proves a man's ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.
Group performance depends on behavior that communicates one powerful overarching idea: We are safe and connected.

managing people teamwork

It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes.
Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.
Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.
When money is used as an external reward for some activity, the subjects lose intrinsic interest for the activity.

management managing people motivation

The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.


A great leader is the one who can show people that their self-interest is different from that which they perceived.
Those whose gifts fit them for leadership must recognize that a prime function of the leader is to keep hope alive.
Leadership in today's world requires far more than a large stock of gunboats and a hard fist at the conference table.
Leaders I feel should guide as far as they can—and then vanish.  Their ashes should not choke the fire they have lit.
The greatness of a leader is measured by the achievements of the led.  This is the ultimate test of his effectiveness.
Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.


Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character.  But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.
The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.
A leader or a man of action in a crisis almost always acts subconsciously and then thinks of the reasons for his action.


To get others to come to our way of thinking, we must go over to theirs. And it is necessary to follow in order to lead.

managing people negotiation

It's a piece of cake until you get to the top. You find you can't stop playing the game the way you've always played it.


A second principle is simply the importance of putting your team first, ahead of your personal statistics and recognition.


True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not the enrichment of the leaders.  In combat, officers eat last.
The leader must know, must know that he knows, and must be able to make it abundantly clear to those about him that he knows.
The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.


We all run the risk of declining, if somebody does not rise to tell us that life is on the heights, and not in the cesspools.

aspiration inspirational life

Asking "Who ought to be boss?" is like asking "Who ought to be the tenor in the quartet?" Obviously, the man who can sing tenor.

management power

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.

business management vision

When there is danger, a good leader takes the front line; but when there is celebration, a good leader stays in the back of the room.
A leader's role is to raise people's aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.
In essence, leaders are people who "walk ahead," people genuinely committed to deep changes, in themselves and in their organizations.


Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.
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.
In time of peril, like the needle to the lodestone, obedience, irrespective of rank, generally flies to him who is best fitted to command.
The genius of a good leader is to leave behind him a situation which common sense, without the grace of genius, can deal with successfully.


A true leader always keeps an element of surprise up his sleeve, which others cannot grasp but which keeps his public excited and breathless.
Writing is the handmaiden of leadership.  Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill rode to glory on the back of the strong declarative sentence.


The most important quality in a leader is that of being acknowledged as such. All leaders whose fitness is questioned are clearly lacking in force.


In English, the word "leader" is more than 1000 years old, and little has changed from its Anglo-Saxon root laedere, meaning "people on a journey."
He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it.


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.
An empathetic leader needs to be out in the world, meeting people where they live and seeing how the technology we create affects their daily activities.
One of Mark Twain's more uplifting quotes maintains that small people always belittle your ambitions, while the great make you feel that you too can be great.


Live the life of a leader. Work every day to make yourself and others better in some meaningful way. A leader is never off duty (not even when sampling tequila).
The art of leadership consists in consolidating the attention of the people against a single adversary and taking care that nothing will split up that attention.
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.


The art of leadership... consists in consolidating the attention of the people against a single adversary and taking care that nothing will split up that attention.
No creature can fly with just one wing.  Gifted leadership occurs when heart and head—feeling and thought—meet. These are the two wings that allow a leader to soar.

head and heart

The cardinal responsibility of leadership is to identify the dominant contradiction at each point of the historical process and to work out a central line to resolve it.
Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.


The very essence of leadership is you have to have a vision.  It's got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion.  You can't blow an uncertain trumpet.


Be willing to make decisions. That's the most important quality in a good leader. Don't fall victim to what I call the 'ready aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome.' You must be willing to fire.
A leader may symbolize and express what is best in his people, like Pericles, or what is worst, like Hitler, but he cannot successfully express what is only in his heart and not in theirs.
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.


No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.

business management

A leader, he said, 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.
A leader must see the external opportunities and the internal capability and culture—and all of the connections among them—and respond to them before they become obvious parts of the conventional wisdom.
It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.
Men make history and not the other way around. 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.
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.
When you come into the presence of a leader of men, you know that you have come into the presence of fire—that it is best not to uncautiously touch that man—that there is something that makes it dangerous to cross him.
What is one thing that I currently do that you'd like me to continue to do? What is one thing that I don't currently do frequently enough that you think I should do more often? What can I do to make you more effective?

managing people

A leader who fluctuates back and forth sends a very wavery signal.  Like the soprano who can shatter glass by finding that high note and holding it, a leader who can hold that high note, without wavering, can shatter walls.
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.


Leadership is an art ... that can be learned. It is also a science ... that can be studied. It is a job...that demands dedication, effort, and tenacity. But above all, it is a mystery... that cannot always be explained with rational logic.
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 concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.
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.
Some people say,"Oh, God, if [Jobs] got run over by a bus, Apple would be in trouble."And, you know, I think it wouldn't be a party, but there are really capable people at Apple. My job is to make the whole executive team good enough to be successors, so that's what I try to do.


In Aristotelian terms, the good leader must have ethos, pathos and logos.  The ethos is his moral character, the source of his ability to persuade.  The pathos is his ability to touch feelings, to move people emotionally.  The logos is his ability to give solid reasons for an action, to move people intellectually.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
— Matthew 5:14


The one thing I have learned as a CEO is that leadership at various levels is vastly different. When I was leading a function or a business, there were certain demands and requirements to be a leader. As you move up the organization, the requirements for leading that organization don't grow vertically; they grow exponentially.

CEO management

Lead the people with administrative injunctions and put them in their place with penal law, and they will avoid punishments but will be without a sense of shame. Lead them with excellence and put them in their place through roles and ritual practices, and in addition to developing a sense of shame, they will order themselves harmoniously.
We've got 25,000 people at Apple. About 10,000 of them are in the stores. And my job is to work with sort of the top 100 people, that's what I do. That doesn't mean they're all vice presidents. Some of them are just key individual contributors. So when a good idea comes, you know, part of my job is to move it around, just see what different people think, get people talking about it, argue with people about it, get ideas moving among that group of 100 people, get different people together to explore different aspects of it quietly, and, you know—just explore things.