Great Quotes from Great Leaders
Quotes on Leadership
Leadership is not so much about technique and methods as it is about opening the heart. Leadership is about inspiration -- of oneself and of others. Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes. Leadership is not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine.
"The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves."
-Ray Kroc (1902-1984) founder of McDonald's Corporation
"I have learned to imagine an invisible sign around each person's neck that says, 'Make me feel important!'"
-Mary Kay Ash, (1918-2001) American businessperson, founder of Mary Kay Inc.
"When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt."
-Henry J. Kaiser (1882-1967) American industrialist
“Men are all alike in their promises. It is only in their deeds that they differ.”
-John Baptiste Moliére (1622–1673) French Playwright
"Any change, any loss, does not make us victims. Others can shake you, surprise you, disappoint you, but they can't prevent you from acting, from taking the situation you're presented with and moving on. No matter where you are in life, no matter what your situation, you can always do something. You always have a choice and the choice can be power."
Blaine Lee, The Power Principle
"There comes that mysterious meeting in life, when someone acknowledges who we are and what we can be, igniting the circuits of our highest potential. "
- Rusty Berkus
“Leadership's job is to groom that next generation. If you're not doing it, you won't get there."
-Jonathan Kass, CIO at Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.
“Leadership is about coping with change” – John Kotter
A leader is a dealer in hope.
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.
-Harry S. Truman, President of the United States
Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.
- Karen Kaiser Clark
I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers
- Ralph Nader
We must become the change we want to see.
- Mahatma Gandhi
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States
"The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership."
Harvey S. Firestone
"Leaders are more powerful role models when they learn than when they teach."
~Rosabeth Moss Kantor
"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."
Warren G. Bennis
"There go the people. I must follow them for I am their leader."
"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."
"Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility."
"If you don't understand that you work for your mis-labelled 'subordinates,' then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny."
-Dee Hock, founder of Visa
"I light my candle from their torches."
"A general is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him."
-General Douglas MacArthur
"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worse when they despise him. But of a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves."
-Lao-Tzu, 5th Century B.C.
"Good leaders must first become good servants."
"And when we think we lead, we are most led."
"I am a leader by default, only because nature does not allow a vacuum."
-Bishop Desmond Tutu
“To lead the people, walk behind them.”
"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things."
-Peter F. Drucker
"The leadership instinct you are born with is the backbone. You develop the funny bone and the wishbone that go with it."
"Leadership demands that we make tough choices."
"Without initiative, leaders are simply workers in leadership positions."
"Leadership does not depend on being right."
" Don't be afraid to take a big step when one is indicated. You can't cross a chasm in two small steps."
-David Loyd George
"The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes."
-Tony Blair, Prime Minister of England
The trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more.
"The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you."
-Max DePree, Author and CEO of Herman Miller, Inc.
"If it's a good idea, go ahead and do it. It is much easier to apologize than it is to get permission."
-Admiral Grace Hopper
"A new leader has to be able to change an organization that is dreamless, soulless and visionless ... someone's got to make a wake up call."
-Warren Bennis, Founding Chairman of The Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California
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
No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent.
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
"Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes."
-Peter Drucker, Management Consultant, Educator and Author
"What you cannot enforce, do not command."
“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 them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”
"Leadership is understanding people and involving them to help you do a job. That takes all of the good characteristics, like integrity, dedication of purpose, selflessness, knowledge, skill, implacability, as well as determination not to accept failure."
-Admiral Arleigh A. Burke
Humans are ambitious and rational and proud. And we don’t fall in line with people who don’t respect us and who we don’t believe have our best interests at heart. We are willing to follow leaders, but only to the extent that we believe they call on our best, not our worst.
"I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people."
~Mohandas K. Gandhi
"The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority."
Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
-John Quincy Adams
"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it."
–Dwight D. Eisenhower
In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles, and positions.
-Margaret Wheatly Leadership and the New Science
"Leadership is the wise use of power. Power is the capacity to translate intention into reality and sustain it."
"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."
"Lead and inspire people. Don't try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead."
"The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet."
-Theodore M. Hesburgh, American Priest and President of the University of Notre Dame
"The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been."
“A great leader's courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.”
"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 and Character Quotes
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
“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
"The most important quality in a leader is that of being acknowledged as such."
"Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy."
“A leaders leads by example whether he intends to or not”
“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it”.
“Leadership consists not in degrees of technique but in traits of character; it requires moral rather than athletic or intellectual effort, and it imposes on both leader and follower alike the burdens of self-restraint.”
-Lewis H. Lapham
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with the important matters.”
"Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions."
-Harold Geneen, Predient of ITT
“Nothing so conclusively proves a man's ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.”
-Thomas J Watson Sr., President of IBM
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.
Leadership Quotes and Management
“A boss creates fear, a leader confidence. A boss fixes blame, a leader corrects mistakes. A boss knows all, a leader asks questions. A boss makes work drudgery, a leader makes it interesting.”
-Russel H Ewing
The quality of leadership, more than any other single factor, determines the success or failure of an organization.
-Fred Fiedler & Martin Chemers: Improving Leadership Effectiveness
"Processes don't do work, people do."
-John Seely Brown
"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
"I used to think that running an organization was equivalent to conducting a symphony orchestra. But I don't think that's quite it; it's more like jazz. There is more improvisation."
-Warren Bennis, Professor of Leadership, USC
"Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their jobs done,"
"Drowning in data, yet starved of information"
-Ruth Stanat in The Intelligent Organization
“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall or not."