Great and Inspiring Quotes about Leadership

Leadership! That wonderful thing that is just so darn hard to develop, no matter how  much time you spend working on it, and how hard you try to be the best leader possible.
Being a leader is never easy, which is why so much has been written and said on the subject.

I love leadership quotes!

The beauty of most of these famous leadership quotes is that they were spoken by simple men who just so happened to become the great leaders that they are now known for being. They didn’t start out as the greatest leaders, but they became so over time. It certainly inspires me.

There’s something about these quotes on leadership that inspire me, make me laugh sometimes, but always give me the vision to be the best leader I can be.

It’s my responsibility to try and develop my leadership qualities as best I can. I don’t always know what to do, but this is why I love the quotes about leadership below!

These famous leadership quotes and leadership quotations always remind me of what I need to do to be a leader, how I can do better, and what things I should just let slide. That’s right, sometimes I just need to let go and work on something else, as I am trying too hard in one area that just isn’t as important as I think it is.

These quotations on leadership and quotations about leadership help me to realize what I need to do and not do, which is why I love spending a bit of time every day reading them.

Here are some of what I think are the best leadership quotes around, or at least my favorite of them:

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 ~

This is an inspirational leadership quote that I read when I forget what it means to be a leader.

It’s funny how leaders sometimes try so hard to get others to follow them, and they struggle and push and pull and work hard at getting followers.

But Lao Tzu’s famous inspirational leadership quote reminds me that a leader doesn’t really do much, but he or she gets people to do it themselves.

“If I want to be a great leader, ” this quote tells me, “I’ve got to help people do what they are trying to do, and make them feel like it was them – have them take the credit for it.”
It’s interesting how we work so hard at being a good leader, when all we need to do is walk beside someone and help them to achieve their own goals. That is what makes us a great 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."
~ Nelson Mandela ~

It’s kind of funny how the best leaders don’t make you think that they are leading, but they are just encouraging you to do what you need or want to do.

When you live up to their expectations, you think that you were the one that made it possible, but the truth is that you are only living up to their expectations because you want to be the kind of person that they know you can be.

A manager is the kind of person that tells everyone to get moving and start working, but a good leader will usually make people want to work and move just because the people around him want to live up to the high standards that the leader has set for them.

It’s kind of a funny balance, but the truth is that a good leader will expect good things, which will make you live up to those things – but then he’ll raise the bar again, and you will continue to meet the expectations.
That’s a good leader!


"The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly."
~ Jim Rohn ~

Finding that balance between being a leader and a hard-ass manager is tough, but there is a bit of both needed in order to be successful in any area of your life.

You can’t just be the fun guy or girl, but you have to lay down the law sometimes. You can’t just listen to and solve everyone’s problems, but you have to tell them to deal with it themselves more often than not. You can’t just acquiesce to everyone’s requests because you want to be liked all the time, but you will have to deny them a lot of the time.

However, how you do it will make all the difference in the world!


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

John C. Maxwell is considered to be one of the greatest motivational speakers on the subject of leadership in the world today, and the truth is that the man really does have a lot of wisdom on the topic.

Look at this simple leadership quote above, and you will realize that there really is something to what he says.

It’s interesting how he brings out the importance of a bit of distance between leaders and their followers.
Many parents try to be all chummy with their kids, and then their kids lose some of the respect they had for their parents when they were a bit more distant. Every good company has a manager who is not afraid to be a bit distant from their employees, as that helps to maintain the respect.

That’s really what is important for leaders: respect. The goal of a good leader is to have others respect them, but it can be hard if they are too distant or too close.

If you are going to be a good leader, you are going to have to find the right distance to be from your followers – as that is what will help them to have that respect for your authority without finding you to be the dictatorial figure that is just giving them orders.


"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."
~ Colin Powell ~

Have your team members stopped bringing you their problems for either of the reasons above: they think you don’t care, or they think you can’t do anything about them?

If so, your leadership is in jeopardy, as people are always going to find someone that they think they can trust to bring their problems to.

If you want to be a leader, people have to know that you can not only help them to solve their problems, but that you really care about them.

 "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."
~ Jim Rohn ~

There are people who naturally do well at everything, or who find success comes much more easily to them.
A good leader will help them to reach their full potential, and will give them the support that they need to reach their goals in life and work. They are supported by the leader, and thus they can reach their goals easily thanks to that support.

The people who do poorly, on the other hand, are always the hardest to work with. There is a delicate balance between helping someone and helping them too much, and those that work poorly have to be treated much more delicately in order to help them to succeed.

You have to learn the balance between the two, and then you have to learn when it’s time to stop sugar-coating things and lay it out straight for the person. It may be that this direct approach can be just the kick in the pants that they need to help them start doing better.


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

We have all heard of “the legacy of a leader”, what a good leader leaves behind to those that carry on their burden or their torch.

It is pretty hard to leave a legacy, and by legacy I don’t mean an inheritance that your kids receive after you die. A legacy is more like a standard that others strive to live by, as they are trying to match up to what you left behind.

That is really the most important legacy; leaving behind large shoes to fill. If the next person who has your job has to strive to do the same things that you did, you are leaving behind that legacy. It doesn’t matter if your job is serving ice cream or controlling the Federal Exchange; set the bar high so that the person who follows will have to strive to be great as well!


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 ~

It’s kind of funny how most of the great leaders in the world were those that led their country or people through some kind of disaster or struggle. Alexander the Great, King Leonidas, Winston Churchill, Gandhi, and all the other leaders that have made history didn’t go through a peaceful or quiet time, but they led their people through a struggle.

Have you ever heard of the Mayor of Pleasantville (fictional character of course)? No, but that’s because his only achievement has been to lead the Pumpkin Parade every year.

However, you have heard about the firemen that ran into the falling buildings during the events of 9/11, the soldiers of Iwo Jima, and the people that died for their beliefs. All of these people were leaders because of a struggle, and it takes a fight to bring out the real leaders.

By this logic, no great leader is ever made or discovered by just sitting down and being great at what they do. It is only when there is a challenge that a leader discovers exactly what he or she has to offer the world, and it is during this struggle that the leader becomes who they are – someone that people want to follow even into a tough time!


As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.
~  Bill Gates ~

The words of Bill Gates, one of the greatest leaders in the world of technology in the latter half of the 20th century, ring very true: only those who empower others will be the true leaders.
The time of actually standing out in the front of the pack has passed, and now the real leaders will be the ones that help others to achieve their goals.

Think about all the people that are considered today’s leaders: bankers, architects, engineers, scientists, financial advisers, oil magnates, and so on. All of these people are considered today’s leaders because they are rich, but they are only rich because they are providing a service to others – empowering others.

You may not become one of the world’s greats, but only by enabling others to do what they need to do will you become the leader that will be known and respected – at least to the people that matter!


I think leadership comes from integrity – that you do whatever you ask others to do. I think there are non-obvious ways to lead. Just by providing a good example as a parent, a friend, a neighbor makes it possible for other people to see better ways to do things. Leadership does not need to be a dramatic, fist in the air and trumpets blaring, activity.
~ Scott Berkun ~

"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 ~

This is one of my favorite leadership quotes, as it promotes my favorite leadership qualities: integrity.

Integrity is something that you will hear most leadership experts going on about, but the truth is that it really is one of the most important things that you will need as a leader. After all, who is going to follow someone that they aren’t sure they can trust.

It’s like the thing they tell some women: If your man cheated with you, he will cheat on you! If your boss is cheating his company or his government or his customers to provide you with some benefit, don’t you think he’s doing the same thing to you with someone else?
A crooked leader never really succeeds, as there is no real trust that can be built if there is no foundation for trust.

I like to think that I am a person that has integrity, though I can honestly say that I fail more often than not.
Still, I hope that I am showing a good example to others of a hardworking individual that helps the community, is a great neighbor and friend, and who does their part to provide the best service to those I work with.

My goal is to be the best person I can be, and though I fail like everyone else in the world, integrity is the one thing that I can say, “Yes, I have that!”

I may not be the most skilled, the smartest, the most talented, or the most intelligent, but I hope that I have the most integrity I can. My integrity has helped me to be a leader, at least to the people that I influence.

Integrity means being that example, striving to be that person that is the best you can be, and working towards something bigger and better than yourself.

There is no need, as the quote says, for drastic actions or dramatic gestures, but being a leader in your own small way by being an example of integrity is the secret to your success!

The truth is that integrity is what will make the foundation to build trust on as solid as possible, and will ensure that others will see you as the leader that they can rely on no matter what!


 "The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it."
~ Theodore Roosevelt ~

Delegation is really one of the most important things that you will need to learn to do as a leader, but the truth of it is that delegation is just damn hard to do.

It can be so difficult to let something go, as you want to be sure that it gets done just right – just the way that you think it needs to be done.

If, however, you are going to be successful as a leader or as a company, you are going to have to let some things slide – leave them in someone else’s hands. Sure, there are things that you are going to have to do all on your own, but the truth is that you can’t do everything. The most important thing to do is select someone that you know you can trust to do that job that you need to do, and leave it in their hands.

It will be so hard to let go at first, but once you have found someone you can trust, you can usually leave things in their hands easily.

In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
Eric Hoffer ~

This is another great one that inspires me to continue to learn, study, and make progress in my personal life.

Things are the way they are now because they work, right? However, what happens when things change, maybe in a few years, months, or even days?

If I am so set in my ways, I will end up being stuck in the now, while those that change are going into the future and seizing it by the short hairs!

As the quote says, the learners – the ones who strive to progress – are the ones who will inherit the earth, while people that are content with the way things are now will be stuck in a past that no longer exists.

Are you willing to learn as change comes, or are you stuck? A good leader is one that will bend with the wind, as that is the only way that they won’t break!


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