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

A Leadership Manifesto: 10 Keys To Living Courageously

By Grant Wattie
President, N2Growth Australia

You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor” ~Aristotle

The word manifesto can be traced back to the Latin root manifestum, which means clear or conspicuous. A manifesto is defined as a declaration of beliefs, opinions, motives, and intentions. In other words, a document that an organization or person writes that declares what they value.

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Mediocrity and disappointment are the outcome from following “Best Practices” for Managing Strategy

By Mark Hefner
Global Practice Chair, Strategy N2Growth

Strategy management processes and the so-called “best practices” most organizations follow have not kept pace with the demands of the marketplace and the performance expectations of shareholders. By definition, best practices are “tried and true,” meaning they have been around for a long time—too long.

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Get Off The Strategy Merry-Go-Round

By Mark Hefner
Global Practice Chair, Strategy N2Growth

Most organizations, and even most strategy consultants, are using strategic planning frameworks built for business models that were designed during the industrial age. These methods are antiquated in both efficiency and effectiveness. They are complex – they are costly – they are slow – they are broken.

Whether you are a working at a company-wide, business unit, functional, or product level, formulating strategy, planning it, and executing it has become too complex, too structured, too rigid, too slow, and more than half of the time does not produce the promised results.

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Think Time Should Not Be Measured In Minutes

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2Growth

How much time do you spend on solving problems?

In a recent interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times, Victor Allis, the CEO of Quintiq, a software maker, said, “ We tell people, ‘Don’t try to figure it out all by yourself.’ We have a five-minute rule. If you’re sitting at your desk for five minutes and you can’t figure out whatever you’re working on, go ask someone.” As Allis explained, another employee may be able to advise, or “may be able to point you to someone who says, ‘We already solved that, and you can find it here.’”

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The Leadership GPS System – Extension Process, Preemptive Crisis Analytics: The New Reality

By Damian D. “Skipper” Pitts
Chair, Organizational Development, N2Growth

The extension process within the Crisis Leadership & Performance-Driven Execution framework’s Leadership GPS System evolves from the new reality in business analytics and organizational design. Preemptive Crisis Analytics, an extension of the Five Ws Agenda within the Leadership GPS System, examines incoming data and decision sciences to increase productivity, efficiency and effectiveness for leaders and organizations to make better informed decisions for their organizations to be more strategically aligned ahead of the competitive landscape.

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Talent, Leadership, Culture: The Number 1 Operating Challenge Cited By CEO’s

By John Mattone
Chair, Culture Transformation, N2Growth

What has been top of mind for corporate boards and CEO’s worldwide since 2004? It is not competitive threats, rising costs, innovation challenges, risk management, technology, debt, or even the regulatory environment. Corporate directors and CEO’s identify the need to create and sustain a leadership and talent culture that drives superior operating results as their #1 current and future challenge….and, this has been the case since 2004!

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The Poker’s Bluff No Longer Works

By Damian D. “Skipper” Pitts
Chair, Organizational Development, N2Growth

Untitled1In the card game of poker, a bluff is a bet or raise made with a hand, which is not thought to be a winner. The objective of a bluff is to induce a fold by the opponents who hold the better hands. The size and frequency of a bluff determines its profitability to the bluffer. By extension, the term is often used outside the context of poker as in leadership to describe the act of making promises one cannot execute. Having the pokers bluff in mind as it relates to the behaviors of leadership, strategy and execution, I couldn’t help but to think about the hallmarks of change – disruption and the use of Crisis Leadership as a means of disrupting incumbent marketplace decisions.

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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.”

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The Brilliance Of Naiveté

By Mike Myatt
Chairman, N2Growth

* This post was originally published on Forbes

I was speaking with a colleague last week who at one point in our conversation referred a third party as being naïve, to which my response was, “I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing – perhaps we should all be a bit more naïve.”  The seed I was trying to plant was that if people (particularly those in leadership) spent less time defending what they think they know, and more time exploring the vast universe of what they don’t know, we might make more progress.

 

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We listen to leaders who talk but we pay attention to leaders who listen.

~ Brian Layer

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