40 Quotes About Leadership

Joan of Arc at the Coronation of Charles VII. Painting by Dominique Ingres. Painted in 1854.
Joan of Arc at the Coronation of Charles VII. Painting by Dominique Ingres (1854). The patron saint of the French army, she changed history, despite having no formal education and being a poor peasant girl from the country side. However, she did have the voices of three saints to advise her.

 

The following leadership quotes illustrate that leadership, by it’s nature, is full of paradoxes and ambiguities. It’s a complicated force difficult to understand, let alone employ.

It’s not like a marketing or accounting textbook where almost all the professors say about the same thing. 

Leadership Quotes 1 to 5

Leadership_Benjamin_Franklin
A picture of Ben Franklin. A great man who was a diplomat, scientist, politician, author, entrepreneur, administrator, inventor, and builder of organizations. His image is on the US $100 bill.

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“If you fail to honor your people, They will fail to honor you; It is said of a good leader that When the work is done, the aim fulfilled, The people will say, “We did this ourselves.” — Lao Tzu, 604-531 B. C., Founder of Taoism, Tao Te Ching

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“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” — Kenneth Blanchard, University of Massachusetts, Schatz, Managing By Influence, (Prentice-Hall, 1986)

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“Contrary to the opinion of many people, leaders are not born. Leaders are made, and they are made by effort and hard work.” Vince Lombardi, 1913-1970, Professional football coach

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“A tale is told of a man in Paris during the upheaval in 1948, who saw a friend marching after a crowd toward the barricades. Warning him that these could not be held against the troops, that he had better keep way, he received this reply, ” I must follow them. I am their leader.” A Lawrence Lowell, 1856-1943, President of Harvard University,Conflicts of Principle

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“Lead, follow or get out of the way!” American Saying

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Leadership Quote 6 to 10

462px-Churchill_V_sign_HU_55521
Winston Churchill in Downing Street giving his famous ‘V’ sign. Churchill was a phenomenal war leader, someone who could rally people in a crisis, in this case a long lasting crisis known as World War II.

 

“To lead, one must follow.” Lao Tzu, 604-531 B. C., Founder of Taoism, Tao Te Ching

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“A leader has to appear consistent. That doesn’t mean he has to be consistent.” James Callahan, English Prime Minister, Harvard Business Review, November/December 1986

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“The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.” John C Maxwell: The 17th Irrefutable Laws of Teamwork (2001, 185)

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“The view only changes for the lead dog.”Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Radio Program, 1950s

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“Leadership, like swimming, cannot be learned by reading about it.”Henry Mintzberg, McGill University School of Management, The Nature of Managerial Work, Harper & Row, 1973

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Leadership Quote 11 to 15

Augustus Caesar. Image by by GianniG46
Augustus Caesar. Image by by GianniG46. One of the great figures of history, Octavian was Julius Ceasar’s nephew. Despite a great deal of turbulence in his early years (remember Cleopatra and Mark Antony), he restored stability to Rome and ruled it for many years before being deified as a God-like figure (yes, you could do that in those days). Interestingly, he had a strong moral and ethical code and was a promoter of Roman “family values.”

“Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.” — Lao Tze

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“A leader is a man who makes decisions. Sometimes they turn out right and sometimes then turn out wrong; but either way, he makes them.” — Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Co., Leaders are Made . . . Not Born, Leadership in the Office (AMACOM, 1963)

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“The productivity and competitive problems American manufactures face result from ineffective top management, petrified in place, unwilling to accept change, failing to provide vision and leadership.” Phillip Alspach, President, Intercom, Inc., Harvard Business Review, November/December 1986

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“My father had a simple test that helps me measure my own leadership quotient: When you are out of the office he once asked me, does you staff carry on remarkable well without you?” Martha Peak, Group Editor, AMA Magazines, Management Review, October 1992

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“The very essence of leadership is that 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 a weak trumpet.”Theodore Hesburgh, President, Nortre Dame University, Time, May 1987

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Leadership Quote 16 to 20

Mausoleum of Genghis Khan in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China. Image by: Fanghong
Mausoleum of Genghis Khan in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China. Image by: Fanghong He is a story of the classic self-made man. Starting with just a few family members, slaves and few animals, by the time he died, his armies had conquered most of Asia (China, Persia, Russia) and he had an Army besieging Vienna. He death spared Vienna and the rest of Europe from being conquered.

“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 Shao-chi

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All organizations do change when put under sufficient pressure. This pressure must be either external to the organization or the result of very strong leadership.” — Bruce Henderson, CEO, Boston Consulting Group, Inc, Henderson on Corporate Strategy (Abit, 1979)

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“Leadership has been defined as the ability to hide your panic from others.” —  Anonymous

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“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, American President

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“Rough waters are truer tests of leadership. In calm water every ship has a good captain.”Swedish proverb

Leadership Quotes 21 to 25

Portrait of pope Urban V, Avignon, France. More than any other person, he served as the catalyst for the crusades.
Portrait of pope Urban V, Avignon, France. More than any other person, he served as the catalyst for the crusades. The story is told that he made a “stump speech” par excellence to the nobility of Europe to get behind this idea. Unfortunately, very little of what he said has come to us today.

“Any one can hold the helm when the sea is calm.”Publilius Syrus.

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“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” Max Lucado

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“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

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“Leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it.”John Naisbitt

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“Leadership requires the courage to make decisions that will benefit the next generation.”Alan Autry

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Leadership Quotes 26 to 30

This is a lid for a canopic container in the shape of Tutankhamun's head. This 14th century BCE object was found in this young pharaoh's intact KV62 tomb from the 18th Dynasty of Egypt's New Kingdom Image by: ddenisen (D. Denisenkov)
This is a lid for a canopic container in the shape of Tutankhamun’s head. This 14th century BCE object was found in this young pharaoh’s intact KV62 tomb from the 18th Dynasty of Egypt’s New Kingdom Image by: ddenisen (D. Denisenkov). He was not a particularity famous Pharaoh, like Ramses II , Seti I or Thutmose I, but their tombs were robbed.

” A good leader can’t get too far ahead of his followers.”Franklin D. Roosevelt

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” A real leader faces the music, even when he doesn’t like the tune.” Anonymous

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“A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.” Unknown

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“A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see.” Leroy Eime

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“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Steve Jobs

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Leadership Quotes 31 t0 34

Pallas Athena. Patron Goddess of the ancient city state of Athens. Work attributed to Rembrandt
Pallas Athena. Patron Goddess of the ancient city state of Athens. Work attributed to Rembrandt Here primary attributes as a leader were two: the courage to defend by arms. This is the attribute or all protectors of the weak. The other was just as important, wisdom. This is an attribute that really is in short supply.

 

“Leadership consists not in degrees of technique but in traits of character.” Lewis H. Lapham

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“A good leader inspires confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people’s confidence in themselves” Unkown

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“The goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of the leader. The goal of a great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves.”J. Carla Nortcutt

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“A person who is worthy of being a leader wants power not for himself, but in order to be of service.” — Sam J. Ervin, Jr. (U.S. Senator, 1954 to 1974)

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“The true leader is always led” Carl Gustav Jung (Swiss Psychologist, Founder of the Analytic Psychology)

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“There go the people. I must follow them for I am their leader.”Alexandre Ledru-Rollin

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Leadership Quotes: 36 to 40

Steve Jobs at WWDC 2008 discussing language support included in iPhone OS (now iOS) 2.0. Image by: Tree Falling in the Forest
Steve Jobs at WWDC 2008 discussing language support included in iPhone OS (now iOS) 2.0. Image by: Tree Falling in the Forest

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”Theodore M. Hesburgh, former President, Notre Dame University

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“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” John F. Kennedy

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“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

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“You can only lead others where you yourself are willing to go.” Lachlan McLean

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“The only safe ship in a storm is leadership.” Faye Wattelton


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