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Leadership requires drive, ingenuity, creativity, and above all character. Here are 25 leadership quotes to inspire you to become a better leader.

Leadership is a complex topic. It requires drive, ingenuity, creativity, and above all character. Not everyone is a true leader. Running a company by simply giving orders and not caring about your employees at all makes you a boss, not a leader.

Leadership is not about titles, but about people willingly following someone because they trust their vision and abilities. We’re looking for people that have what it takes to inspire us, who would cheer our success and help us get back on track whenever we fail. That’s when we feel we’re being valued and that’s the kind of people we choose to follow.

The following leadership quotes will not only inspire you, but teach you about the differences between a leader with a strong character and an autocratic boss.

When leaders give a sense of purpose and protection, their people will make all the necessary efforts to get the job done. Leadership lies in pointing out people’s strengths, helping them and knowing that success doesn’t come by itself. You need their contribution if you want to build something that lasts.

Here are 128 leadership quotes to inspire you to become a better leader:

Inspirational leadership quotes

Becoming a great leader doesn’t happen overnight. Aside from your personal management skills, you also need to work on your soft skills and diplomacy. No one likes a leader that doesn’t know how to properly approach different situations or one that starts yelling when something goes wrong.

Your people are the ones that decide if you are a good leader or not. And as long as you know how to run your business, but also care about your employees’ needs, you’re on the right track.

Whether you already are a leader or aspire to become one, take a look at our selection of inspirational leadership quotes.

Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be led.

ROSS PEROT

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS

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

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

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.

THOMAS JEFFERSON

We live in a society obsessed with public opinion. But leadership has never been about popularity.

MARCO RUBIO

True leadership lies in guiding others to success. In ensuring that everyone is performing at their best, doing the work they are pledged to do and doing it well.

BILL OWENS

Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.

NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF

To have long term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way.

PAT RILEY

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

I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. 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 TZU

Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.

ROY T. BENNETT

A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.

GEORGE PATTON

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

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.

ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY

A competent leader can get efficient service from poor troops, while on the contrary an incapable leader can demoralize the best of troops.

JOHN J PERSHING

In our society, the women who break down barriers are those who ignore limits.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER

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

Power isn’t control at all  power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others that they may have the strength to stand on their own. 

BETH REVIS

A man can only lead when others accept him as their leader, and he has only as much authority as his subjects give to him. All of the brilliant ideas in the world cannot save your kingdom if no one will listen to them. 

BRANDON SANDERSON

A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.

JOHN MAXWELL

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

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.

GEORGE PATTON

One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.

ARNOLD GLASOW

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

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

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

Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.

JOHN C. MAXWELL

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

I am endlessly fascinated that playing football is considered a training ground for leadership, but raising children isn’t.

DEE DEE MYERS

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.

COLIN POWELL

I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.

RALPH NADER

I am reminded how hollow the label of leadership sometimes is and how heroic followership can be.

WARREN BENNIS

When I give a minister an order, I leave it to him to find the means to carry it out.

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE

Leadership quotes by women

It is quite hard for a lady to be a leader. Not because she doesn’t have what it takes, but because most women are still perceived only as… women. A lot of ladies have to work in harsh environments, surrounded by men who underestimate their leadership skills.

A woman has to be 10 times braver and convincing in a conference room full of men. And same even when it’s filled with other women because, sadly, not all of us have learnt to support and applaud each other’s successes.

Because we know you boss ladies need a little encouragement every now and then, we’ve selected a list of leadership quotes by women to inspire and empower you.

There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.

MICHELLE OBAMA

We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.

BEYONCE

I don’t think you can create anything interesting from a comfort zone. You have to work from a place of fear and failure.

CHARLIZE THERON

Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.

TINA FEY

Women are the real architects of society.

CHER

Some women choose to follow men, and some choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that you career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.

LADY GAGA

When you learn how much you’re worth, you’ll stop giving people discounts.  ​

HELEN KELLER

I will not let anyone scare me out of my full potential.

NICKI MINAJ

Every woman I know, particularly the senior ones, has been called too aggressive at work. We know in gender blind studies that men are more aggressive in their offices than women. We know that. Yet we’re busy telling all the women that they’re too aggressive. That’s the issue.

SHERYL SANDBERG

Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be.

ELIZABETH GILBERT

If you’re too comfortable, it’s time to move on. Terrified of what’s next? You’re on the right track. 

SUSAN FALES HILL

Know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain and still succeed. 

UNKNOWN

Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve. 

J.K. ROWLING

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.  

A.A. MILNE

We need to get women to the point where they aren’t apologizing. It’s time to take ownership in our success. 

TORY BURCH

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at her.

UNKNOWN

I think success needs to be defined on your own terms. If you look to outside sources (friends, media, the internet) for constant validation, you will never feel fulfilled. 

JACLYN JOHNSON

You can do anything you want, just not everything. Pick what you want, work harder than most to get it, and believe in yourself. 

DAINA TROUT

Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live 

MAE JEMISON

When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail and both are equally important. 

ELLEN DEGENERES

You won’t know until you try. Create without fear. If you mess up, who cares? You learn and move on. 

MICHELLE MCHARGUE

Most of the reason we don’t do things is because we’re afraid to fail. I just made a decision one day that I was not going to do things in my life because of fear. 

SARA BLAKELY

Even if your dream seems unattainable, you can achieve it if you stay focused, driven, and diligent.

REBECCA MINKOFF

It’s really hard to start a business if you don’t care about it. At the margin, when it’s 2am, it has to be that passion that pushes you forward. 

KATRINA LAKE

Famous leadership quotes

The world has had so many great leaders over the course of history and their experience can teach us a lot. Some of them chose to rule with an ‘iron fist’, but the best of them have realized that being a great leader is so much more than giving orders and people executing them out of fear.

Nowadays leaders have understood that if their employees are happy at their workplace, they will be more productive. Besides, they won’t become eager to search for a new job where they will be more appreciated.

Below, we’ve handpicked a list of famous leadership quotes to inspire you to become a better leader.

Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.

VINCE LOMBARDI

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 (MORE NELSON MANDELA QUOTES)

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 leader has to be practical and a realist yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist.

ERIC HOFFER

Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.

STEPHEN COVEY

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 (MORE JIM ROHN QUOTES)

Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.

BRIAN TRACY

Leadership is not bullying and leadership is not aggression. Leadership is the expectation that you can use your voice for good. That you can make the world a better place.

SHERYL SANDBERG (MORE SHERYL SANDBERG QUOTES)

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.

JACK WELCH

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

If you wouldn’t follow yourself, why should anyone else?

JOHN C. MAXWELL (MORE JOHN C. MAXWELL QUOTES)

Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.

PETER DRUCKER

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. Leaders are made rather than born.

WARREN BENNIS

He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.

ARISTOTLE (MORE ARISTOTLE QUOTES)

A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE

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

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

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

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

Great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather by the presence of clear strengths.

JOHN ZENGER

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.

JOHN MAXWELL

It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well. 

J.K. ROWLING

The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.

RONALD REAGAN

You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.

STEVE JOBS

If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.

DOLLY PARTON

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.

JACK WELCH

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

BILL GATES

Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.

BRIAN TRACY

The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground.

WINSTON CHURCHILL

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

The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.

TONY BLAIR

Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.

STEPHEN COVEY

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.

DWIGHT EISENHOWER

Short leadership quotes

We love short quotes because they comprise so much advice, knowledge or emotion in such few words. The following quotes are meant for everyone — be it employees, students, aspiring men and women or business owners.

Through hard work and commitment, anyone can become a great leader someday. So why not start working on your dreams right now? After all, you need all the time you can get to become at least as good as the people you currently admire.

From actual leaders, to writers, artists and philosophers, they all have something great to say about what leadership is or should be. Below you will find some great short leadership quotes and sayings that you can share with everyone you know.

A leader is a dealer in hope.

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE

I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?

BENJAMIN DISRAELI

A cowardly leader is the most dangerous of men.

STEPHEN KING

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

PROVERBS 29:18

You manage things; you lead people. Rear Admiral

GRACE MURRAY HOPPER

Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.

WARREN BENNIS

To do great things is difficult; but to command great things is more difficult.

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

Earn your leadership every day.

MICHAEL JORDAN

There are three essentials to leadership: humility, clarity and courage.

FUCHAN YUAN

The supreme quality of leadership is integrity.

DWIGHT EISENHOWER

Be so good they can’t ignore you.

STEVE MARTIN

What you do has far greater impact than what you say.

STEPHEN COVEY

You don’t need a title to be a leader.

UNKNOWN

The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.

HARVEY FIRESTONE

The greatest leaders mobilize others by coalescing people around a shared vision.

KEN BLANCHARD

Leadership does not always wear the harness of compromise.

WOODROW WILSON

Whatever you are, be a good one.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow.

CHINESE PROVERB

Leadership is the key to 99 percent of all successful efforts.

ERSKINE BOWLES

Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.

BILL BRADLEY

Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.  

GEORGE PATTON

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

Never give an order that can’t be obeyed.

GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR

To command is to serve, nothing more and nothing less.

ANDRE MALRAUX

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

JOHN F. KENNEDY

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.

PUBLILIUS SYRUS

You don’t lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.

DWIGHT EISENHOWER

Leadership cannot just go along to get along. Leadership must meet the moral challenge of the day.

JESSE JACKSON

A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE

He who has great power should use it lightly.

SENECA

It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself.

LATIN PROVERB

The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.

KENNETH BLANCHARD

Education is the mother of leadership.

WENDELL WILLKIE

A ruler should be slow to punish and swift to reward.

OVID

A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.

JOHN MAXWELL