60 Top Leadership Quotes Of All Time

By Grant Wattie
President, N2Growth Australia

Below are my top 60 favorite leadership quotes of all time.

  • “Leaders transform the quality of their lives’ by becoming aware of authentic choices, and living courageously towards a new more empowering future.” – Grant Wattie

  • “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” —Margaret Mead

  • “Leadership is not what you know or who you know, but how to transfer what you know into the hearts and minds of who you know.” – Mike Myatt

  • “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” —Lao Tzu

  • “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” —Proverbs 29:18

  • “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?” —Benjamin Disraeli

  • “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” —Max DePree

  • “He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.” —Aristotle

  • “Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.” — General George Patton

  • “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” —Jack Welch

  • “A leader is a dealer in hope.” —Napoleon Bonaparte

  • “Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow.” —Chinese Proverb

  • “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” —John Maxwell

  • “My own definition of leadership is this: The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.” —General Montgomery

  • “The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground.” —Sir Winston Churchill

  • “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leadersare made rather than born.” —Warren Bennis

  • “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” —Peter Drucker

  • “If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.” —Maya Angelou

  • “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” —Publilius Syrus

  • “We found that for leaders to make something great, their ambition has to be for the greatness of the work and the company, rather than for themselves.” Jim Collins

  • “When leaders take back power, when they act as heroes and saviors, they end up exhausted, overwhelmed, and deeply stressed.” – Margaret J Wheatley

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

  • “Three things a leader or manager should be thinking: What’s happening? What’s not happening? and What can I do to influence the outcome?” — John Baldoni

  • “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” —Ken Kesey

  • “When I give a minister an order, I leave it to him to find the means to carry it out.” —Napoleon Bonaparte

  • “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

  • “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” —John Maxwell

  • “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 an uncertain trumpet.” —Reverend Theodore Hesburgh

  • “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” —John Maxwell

  • “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” —Rosalynn Carter

  • “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

  • “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” —Sam Walton

  • “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” —Douglas MacArthur

  • “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

  • “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” —General Dwight Eisenhower

  • “The leader has to be practical and a realist yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist.” —Eric Hoffer

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

  • “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” —General George Patton

  • “Instead of looking for a great leader, we are in an era where each of us needs to find the great leader within ourselves.” – Werner Erhard

  • “Do what you feel in your heart to be right–for you’ll be criticized anyway.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

  • “Don’t necessarily avoid sharp edges. Occasionally they are necessary to leadership.” —Donald Rumsfeld

  • “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.” —Stephen Covey

  • “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” — General Colin Powell

  • “Great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather by the presence of clear strengths.” —John Zenger

  • “He who has great power should use it lightly.: —Seneca

  • I am reminded how hollow the label of leadership sometimes is and how heroic followership can be.” —Warren Bennis

  • “He who has learned how to obey will know how to command.” —Solon

  • “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody.” —Herbert Swope

  • “If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” —Benjamin Franklin

  • “It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself.” —Latin Proverb

  • “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

  • “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” —Norman Schwarzkopf

  • “The greatness of a person’s power is the measure of their surrender.” -William Booth

  • “Leadership is the key to 99 percent of all successful efforts.” —Erskine Bowles

  • “Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.” —Tom Peters

  • “No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.” —Abraham Lincoln

  • “The greatest leaders mobilize others by coalescing people around a shared vision.” —Ken Blanchard

  • “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

  • “Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It’s not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious–but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.” – Jim Collins

“Level 5 leaders are a study in duality: modest and willful, humble and fearless.” – Jim Collins

The Truth About Titles

A Chief What Officer? The truth about titles.

By Brody Clemmer
Chief Innovation Officer, N2Growth

I have been a Digital Marketer, a Genius, a Business Representative, and a Shift Manager. I have guided through the titles that life has graciously provided me, without a true understanding of what it meant. Now, I find myself in this position again as a Chief Innovation Officer. When people ask me, “Brody, what do you do?” I tell them my respective title. When they look at me with a puzzled ‘yeah right!’ face, I say something to the effect of – “That means I sit in a chair and think about things.” It’s not wrong, that is my job, and for those only seeking your title, that’s all they care about.

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man, thumbs down, twisted leadership

Twisted Leadership

By Grant Wattie
President, N2Growth Australia

Never in the history of mankind has there been a greater need for leadership and yet there is a massive shortage. The reason is simple. Leadership is taught in universities and courses by intellectual ‘fu – k – wits’ who talk a good game, but don’t play. Today’s model by and large teaches about leadership with fancy theories. What’s missing is the practical application of how to actually be a leader.

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Trust Matters Even To The NFL

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2Growth

The NFL is sitting pretty.

You bet! After a series of widely publicized domestic assault cases, repeatedly botched attempts to impose discipline, and the performance of a commissioner who has been AWOL for most of the recent crisis, the fans keep flocking to the gates and even more fans are watching on Sunday (as well as Thursday and Monday).


John Baldoni Interviewed on ESPN

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has not spoken publicly since Sept. 9. Bob Ley talks with ESPN NFL business analyst Andrew Brandt and John Baldoni, Chair of N2Growth’s Leadership Development Practice about the commissioner’s recent lack of presence.

Watch the Interview

Louis CK: Walk Away… And Come Back Fresh

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2Growth

So you write, produce and star in a hit TV sitcom, what do you do next?

If you are comedian Louis CK you walk away. As he told Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, “I wanted the show to feel new again. I felt like I did three seasons that were all one spurt, and that felt good and I wanted to forget the show, so I took time to forget about it. I aggressively forgot the show existed for a few months.”


Governor Christie: Leadership Begins With A Look In The Mirror

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2growth

Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?

Legend – as well as Shakespeare — has it that Henry II said something to this effect in fit of pique directed toward his one-time good friend and loyal civil servant Thomas a Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury. The King was vexed over Becket’s refusal to subjugate church authority to the state and Henry sought to limit Becket’s influence. In time, Henry’s henchmen travel to Canterbury thinking they are doing the King a favor and slay Becket in the cathedral.

I cite Henry’s behavior frequently in my coaching with senior executives as a means of cautioning them to watch their words. Its theme resonates today in the unfolding drama of Governor Chris Christie and traffic jams near the Fort Lee entrance to the George Washington Bridge. At the moment it appears as if loyal aides conjured up the traffic jam as a means of getting back at the mayor of Fort Lee who was not a supporter of the governor in his re-election bid last fall. One of whom, Bridget Anne Kelly, his deputy, has been axed.


Read Full Column on Forbes

Give the Gift of Time

By Brian Layer
Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

Marissa Mayer is in trouble.  Information recently spilled through the Yahoo firewall that she is habitually late.  Evidently she has the tardy gene, a degenerative marker that becomes symptomatic with a little authority and can become chronic with a lot.

She is not alone; many bosses do things they shouldn’t when they can. In fact, more authority makes many people less responsible.  But to be fair, managing time is a difficult task that increases exponentially with each promotion.  Regardless, senior executives who cannot manage themselves are incredibly disruptive to their organizations and the best leaders work hard to get it right.

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What the NFL can learn from a Civil War Soldier

By Brian Layer
Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

“Beware how you take away hope from another human being.”Oliver Wendell Holmes

This week, the Miami Dolphins stole headlines from their NFL competitors.  Unfortunately for the league, the Dolphins, and the rest of us, the way their players talk and not the way they play invited the scrutiny. Words are unique to the human condition and the thread that connects us to this quilt of humanity.  The right words strengthen; the wrong words fray.

The problem became public when a player left the team after a more experienced player and designated leader spoke, wrote, and broadcasted words that were both demeaning and threatening.  A handful of players and observers have reminded those who sit outside the lines that theirs is a warrior’s world where toughness matters and where words like those are just part of the language of toughness.

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8 Ways To Spot Great Leadership

By Mike Myatt
Chairman, N2growth 

If you ever wonder why we’re in a crisis of leadership all you have to do is to watch and listen to those in positions of leadership. While there are clearly many aspects of leadership that must work together in harmony in order for leaders to be effective, everything breaks down when leaders don’t understand how to engage effectively.

Let’s start with what leadership is not: Leadership is not a monologue, a speech, a lecture or a filibuster. Leadership is not talking at or over people. Leadership is not sequestered, does not live in a bubble or operate in a vacuum. Leadership is not exclusive or arrogant. Leadership is not about the leader.


Read Full Column on Forbes

The Silent CEO Addiction Killing Productivity And Talent Development

By Mike Myatt
Chairman, N2growth 

Corporate America’s dependency on consulting firms is nothing short of substance abuse in the purest form. The fact is most CEOs suffer from this very dangerous addiction and they don’t even know it – they are clearly in need of an intervention.

Addicts don’t often admit they have a problem. They tend to rationalize and justify their behavior as normal. Here’s the thing – normal doesn’t always mean admirable or correct. In fact, normal most often means mediocre. Just as addicts are in constant search of a quick fix, misguided CEOs are in search of a perceived easy solution. It’s easier to throw money at the symptom rather than do the work to solve the problem. Don’t look for the easy solution – look for the correct solution.


Read Full Column on Forbes

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