Leadership Quotes


  • 1 Change
  • 2 Integrity
  • 3 Character
  • 4 Influence
  • 5 Techniques and Style
  • 6 Motivation
  • 7 Qualities of a Leader
  • 8 Leadership and Planning
  • 9 Leadership and Vision
  • 10 Failure
  • 11 Courage
  • 12 Innovation
  • 13 Miscellaneous


  • “When what used to control us becomes controlled by us, it is the beginning of a new part of our life. Each progress leaves behind a broken barrier that we have conquered; each conquered barrier is another step to our greater selves.” ~ Arthur F. Carmazzi
  • “Every organization must be prepared to abandon everything it does to survive in the future.” ~ Peter Drucker
  • “Employees are only as good as the expectations you put on them.” Clint Borgen.
  • Managers think about today. Leaders think about tomorrow. ~ Dan McCreary
  • “Good leaders put out fires. Great leaders prevent them.” ~ Amanda Hageman
  • Leaders manage change. Managers control process. ~ Anon
  • “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
  • “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” ~ James Baldwin
  • “As we, the leaders, deal with tomorrow, our task is not to try to make perfect plans. Our task is to create organizations that are sufficiently flexible and versatile that they can take our imperfect plans and make them work in execution. That is the essential character of the learning organization.” ~ Gordon R. Sullivan & Michael V. Harper
  • “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
  • “Think of managing change as an adventure. It tests your skills and abilities. It brings forth talent that may have been dormant. Change is also a training ground for leadership. When we think of leaders, we remember times of change, innovation and conflict. Leadership is often about shaping a new way of life. To do that, you must advance change, take risks and accept responsibility for making change happen.” ~ Charles E. Rice, CEO of Barnett Bank


  • Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with the important matters. ~ Albert Einstein
  • Managers are people who do things right, while leaders are people who do the right thing. ~ Warren Bennis
  • Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. ~ Peter Drucker
  • Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. ~ Abraham Lincoln
  • The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves. ~ Ray Kroc, Founder of McDonald’s


  • Nearly all men can withstand adversity. If you truly want to test a mans character, give him power. ~ Abraham Lincoln
  • Leadership in today’s world requires far more than a large stock of gunboats and a hard fist at the conference table. ~ Hubert H. Humphrey
  • One measure of leadership is the caliber of people who choose to follow you. ~ Dennis Peer
  • Leadership is action, not position. ~ Donald McGannon


  • Leadership is influence. ~ John Maxwell
  • A leader is best when people barely know he exists; Not so good when people obey and acclaim him; worst when they dispise him. but a good leader who falks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say “We did it our selves!” Sun-Tsu

    Techniques and Style

  • Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results. ~ George S. Patton
  • If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulder of giants. ~ Isaac Newton
  • Leadership is about changing the mindset of a group, but in the cultivation of an environment that brings out the best and inspires the individuals in that group Arthur F Carmazzi
  • 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
  • If you’re confused, you’re paying attention. ~ Tom Peters
  • In matters of style, swim with the current; In matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson
  • Lead, follow or get out of the way! George S. Patton
  • Probably my best quality as a coach is that I ask a lot of challenging questions and let the person come up with the answer. ~ Phil Dixon
  • The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. ~ Kenneth Blanchard
  • To lead others, embody their ideals! – Leonid S. Sukhorukov


  • Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. ~ Dwight Eisenhower
  • A leader is a dealer in hope. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte
  • He who thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only taking a walk. ~ Anonymous

    Qualities of a Leader

  • Leadership is a quality of those who earn the respect of others through the wisdom of the combination of their words and their actions. ~ Walter Grant IV, former President — University of Redlands Whitehead Leadership Society.
  • Take care of your men, fight them, and honour them as you would yourself. ~ Harley Fricker
  • To lead is not to influence others to do something they are not committed to, but rather to nurture a culture that motivates and even excites individuals to do what is required for the benefit of all. Arthur F Carmazzi
  • Superior leaders get things done with very little motion. They impart instruction not through many words, but through a few deeds. They keep informed about everything but interfere hardly at all. They are catalysts, and though things would not get done as well if they were not there, when they succeed they take no credit. And, because they take no credit, credit never leaves them. ~ Lao Tzu
  • The most important quality in a leader is that of being acknowledged as such. ~ Andre Maurois

    Leadership and Planning

  • Good plans shape good decisions. That’s why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true. ~ Lester R. Bittel The Nine Master Keys of Management

    Leadership and Vision

  • A clear vision is usually assumed and rarely communicated. ~ Unknown
  • The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist. ~ Eric Hoffer
  • Never mistake a clear view for a short distance. ~ Paul Saffo, Saffo.com
  • 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, U.S. economist “The Age of Uncertainty”
  • Give people a convincing reason and they will lay down their very lives. ~ Patrick Dixon


  • You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down. ~ Mary Pickford
  • The difference between vision and hallucination is action. ~ Template:Allen Patmarajah
  • 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. ~Colin Powell
  • To expect innovation without support is hallucination


  • All serious daring starts from within. ~ Eudora Welty
  • To put up with. . . distortions and to stick to one’s guns come what may — this is the. . . gift of leadership. (Abridged) ~ Mohandas Gandhi
  • 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. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Fortune sides with he who dares. ~ Virgil
  • A leader must have the courage to act against an expert’s advice. ~ James Callaghan
  • Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway. ~ John Wayne


  • Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


  • If leadership is an art, then leaders are the artists, organizations are the easel, people are the canvas, ideas are the pigment, values are the frame, and vision is the thing that’s hung up at the gallery–the final outcome that’s so magical it tempts the audience to forget the messy process by which the result is fashioned, and lures them into a state of awe. ~ Walter Stevenson
  • In the face of adversity and personal pain, we continue to strive to achieve our ideals… to provide comfort and hope to those we care about… by converting our collective hopes, dreams and aspirations into reality. ~ Boris M Struk
  • The real leader has no need to lead — he is content to point the way. ~ Henry Miller
  • Most of the ladies and gentlemen who mourn the passing of the nation’s leaders wouldn’t know a leader if they saw one. If they had the bad luck to come across a leader, they would find out that he might demand something from them, and this impertinence would put an abrupt and indignant end to their wish for his return. ~ Lewis H. Lapham
  • Give a man a reason and he will lay down his very life. ~ Patrick Dixon
  • A good leader is a good follower, but a good follower is not necessarily a good leader. ~Misc.
  • 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
  • I am a leader by default, only because nature does not allow a vacuum. ~ Bishop Desmond Tutu
  • People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. . . . The leader works in the open, and the boss is covert. The leader leads, and the boss drives. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
  • The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on. . . . 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. ~ Walter Lippmann
  • There is no such thing as a perfect leader either in the past or present, in China or elsewhere. If there is one, he is only pretending, like a pig inserting scallions into its nose in an effort to look like an elephant. ~ Liu Shaoqi
  • 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
  • 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
  • There is no contest between the company that buys the grudging compliance of its work force and the company that enjoys the enterprising participation of its employees. ~ Ricardo Semler
  • The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. ~ Max DePree
  • When what you are doing isn’t working, you tend to do more of the same and with greater intensity. ~ Dr. Bill Maynard & Tom Champoux Heart, Soul and Spirit
  • A friend of mine characterizes leaders simply like this: “Leaders don’t inflict pain. They bear pain.” ~ Max DePree
  • Ah well! I am their leader, I really ought to follow them! ~ Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin
  • Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry. ~ Winston Churchill
  • 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
  • When the effective leader is finished with his work, the people say it happened naturally. ~ Lao Tse
  • Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their jobs done. ~ Peter Drucker
  • I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers ~ Ralph Nader

    To lead people, walk beside them … As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate … When the best leader’s work is done the people say, “We did it ourselves!” ~ Lao Tsu

  • Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes… but no plans. ~ Peter Drucker
  • 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
  • Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be led. ~ Ross Perot
  • A competent leader can get efficient service from poor troops, while on the contrary an incapable leader can demoralize the best of troops. ~ General of the Armies John J. Pershing
  • It is important that an aim never be defined in terms of activity or methods. It must always relate directly to how life is better for everyone. . . . The aim of the system must be clear to everyone in the system. The aim must include plans for the future. The aim is a value judgment. ~ W. Edwards Deming
  • The very essence of leadership is its purpose. And the purpose of leadership is to accomplish a task. That is what leadership does — and what it does is more important than what it is or how it works. ~ Colonel Dandridge M. Malone
  • We know not where our dreams will take us, but we can probably see quite clearly where we’ll go without them. ~ Marilyn Grey
  • It is not a question of how well each process works, the question is how well they all work together. ~ Lloyd Dobens and Clare Crawford-Mason Thinking About Quality
  • Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • In war, three quarters turns on personal character and relations; the balance of manpower and materials counts only for the remaining quarter. ~ Napoleon I
  • The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and will to carry on. ~ Walter J. Lippmann
  • Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it. ~ Marian Anderson
  • People are more easily led than driven. ~ David Harold Fink
  • Leadership has a harder job to do than just choose sides. It must bring sides together. ~ Jesse Jackson
  • What is character but the determination of incident, what is incident but the illustration of character? ~ Henery James
  • The trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. ~ Erica Jong
  • 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
  • The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. ~ Max DePree, in The Art of Leadership
  • Processes don’t do work, people do. ~ John Seely Brown
  • Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions. ~ Harold Geneen
  • The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been. ~ Henry Kissinger
  • Jingshen is the Mandarin word for spirit and vivacity. It is an important word for those who would lead, because above all things, spirit and vivacity set effective organizations apart from those that will decline and die. ~ James L. Hayes “Memos for Management: Leadership”
  • Uncertainty will always be part of the taking charge process. ~ Harold Geneen
  • Remember that it is far better to follow well than to lead indifferently. ~ John G. Vance
  • The only real training for leadership is leadership. ~ Anthony Jay
  • The future is taking shape now in our own beliefs and in the courage of our leaders. Ideas and leadership — not natural or social ‘forces’ — are the prime movers in human affairs. ~ George Roche, A World Without Heroes
  • The art of leading, in operations large or small, is the art of dealing with humanity, of working diligently on behalf of men, of being sympathetic with them, but equally, of insisting that they make a square facing toward their own problems. ~ S. L. A. Marshall Men Against Fire
  • And when we think we lead, we are most led. ~ Lord Byron
  • If you think you can do a thing or that you cannot do a thing, in either case you are right. ~ Henry Ford
  • The price of greatness is responsibility. ~ Winston Churchill
  • My goal is not to be a ‘well-rounded’ leader, but rather to focus on the unique gifts that I can bring, and then make certain that the strengths of others bring all that is necessary – including the things that I lack – to our work … ~ Wesley Granberg-Michaelson Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, Leadership from the inside out: Spirituality & organizational change (2004)
  • I am more afraid of an army of one hundred sheep led by a lion than an army of one hundred lions led by a sheep. ~ Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
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