Food for Thought: Memorable Quotes on Leadership

“The wisdom of the wise and the experience of ages may be preserved by quotation.”

— Benjamin Disraeli   

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Look at phenomenal leaders. A common denominator for their extraordinary success has been a passion for reading. One key benefit of reading has the ability to inspire and ignite creativity, helping leaders see the “big picture” more clearly.  Here, I’d like to share some of my favorite collection of quotes on leadership.

As 1 Timothy says, “To aspire into leadership is an honorable ambition.”  It is my sincerest hope that the following quotes will stimulate, challenge, and inspire you to become a better leader. Will you join me in our endeavor to make a dent in the universe?

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”

― Eleanor Roosevelt

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

― John Quincy Adams

“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

“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

“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

“If a rhinoceros were to enter this restaurant now, there is no denying he would have great power here. But I should be the first to rise and assure him that he had no authority whatever.”

— G.K. Chesterton to Alexander Woollcott

“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”

― George S. Patton Jr.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

― William Arthur Ward

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”

― John C. Maxwell

“Jesus said several times, “Come, follow me.” His was a program of “do what I do,” rather than “do what I say.” His innate brilliance would have permitted him to put on a dazzling display, but that would have left his followers far behind. He walked and worked with those he was to serve. His was not a long-distance leadership. He was not afraid of close friendships; he was not afraid that proximity to him would disappoint his followers. The leaven of true leadership cannot lift others unless we are with and serve those to be led.”

― Spencer W. Kimball

“The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of like is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give.”

― William Arthur Ward

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

― Peter F. Drucker, Essential Drucker: Management, the Individual and Society

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

― Harry S. Truman

“A leader. . .is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

 “Faith moves mountains, love transforms hearts.”

― John Paul Warren

 “In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be, by remaining what we are.”

― Max DePree, Leadership Is an Art

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

— Stephen R. Covey

“Leadership is not magnetic personality, that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not “making friends and influencing people”, that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”

— Peter F. Drucker

“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

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

— Jack Welch

“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”

— Ralph Nader

“No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.”

— Peter Drucker

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others; it is the only thing.”

— Albert Schweitzer

 “Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.”

— Harold S. Geneen

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

— Norman Schwarzkopf

Leader in its most important sense means being the agent of your own life, influencing the things you care about most in the world to make it a richer life. “

— Stewart Friedman, Total Leadership