Your ability to lead others will help you prosper in your relationships with your family, friends, peers, significant others, and children.
Below are insightful leadership quotes from some of the greatest leaders in human history that define great leadership and explain what it truly means to be an effective shepherd for the people you lead.
Leadership Quotes to Inspire You to Greatness Right Now
For leaders looking for a source of inspiration to get better at what they do, these leadership quotes by famous personalities will help stir the greatness in them.
1. “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart” — Eleanor Roosevelt
3. “Great leaders create more leaders, not followers.” ―
4. “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” — John F. Kennedy
5. “He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.” — Aristotle
6. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.
7. “A leader is a dealer in hope.” — Napoleon Bonaparte
8. “The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.” — Tony Blair
9. “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” — John Maxwell
10. “You don’t have to hold a position in order to be a leader.” — Henry Ford
Quotes to Help You Grow as a Leader
These quotes will motivate you to encourage to develop your leadership skills for life and business.
11. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
12. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” — John Quincy Adams
13. “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” — John Maxwell
14. “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
15. “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
16. “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
Powerful leadership quotes to help you succeed
Learn how to succeed from those who have excelled in life and business.
17. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” — Steve Jobs
18. “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” — Alexander the Great
19. “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 Regan
20. “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
21. “The day the soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” — Colin Powell
22. “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
23. “A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” ― Arnold H. Glasow
24. “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
25. “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” ― Warren Bennis
26. “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” ― Peter Drucker
27. “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” ― Henry Kissinger
Leadership Quotes That Will Spark Your Fire
A great quote can totally change your life by reminding you of the greatness that lies within you.
28. “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” — John C. Maxwell
29. “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” — Margaret Fuller
30. “Mountaintops inspire leaders, but valleys mature them.” — Winston Churchill
31. “My best successes came on the heels of failures.” — Barbara Corcoran
32. “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others” ― Bill Gates
33. “Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.” — Nelson Mandela
34. “We cannot lead anyone farther than we have been ourselves.” — John C. Maxwell
35. “All leaders are readers.” — Jim Rohn
36. “A good leader must hate the wrong thing more than they hate the pain of doing the right thing.” ― Angela Jiang
37. “Earn your leadership every day.” — Michael Jordan
Leadership quotes that will inspire you to make your mark
Allow these quotes to push you forward.
38. “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
39. “If you want to be a leader who attracts quality people, the key is to become a person of quality yourself.” — Jim Rohn
40. “Leadership is self-made. People who have deliberately decided to become problem solvers lead better.” ― Israelmore Ayivor
41. “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 Maxwell
42. “A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see.” ― Leroy Eimes
43. “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
44. “Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” — John C. Maxwell
45. “Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another.” — John C. Maxwell
46. “Outstanding leaders go out of the way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” — Sam Walton
47. “Are leaders born or made? This is a false dichotomy – leaders are neither born nor made. Leaders choose to be leaders.” — Stephen R. Covey
Leadership quotes that will change the way you think
Great quotes also provide the knowledge, tips, and information you need to walk your own path toward making your impact in the world.
48. “The test of organization is not genius. It is its capacity to make common people achieve uncommon performance.” — Peter F. Drucker
49. “True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed… Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.” — Sheryl Sandberg
50. “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” — Sheryl Sandberg
51. “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” — Sheryl Sandberg
52. “To have long-term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way.” — Pat Riley
53. “We do not need magic to change the world; we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” — J.K. Rowling
54. “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” — Michael Jordan
55. “A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.” — Jim Rohn
56. “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
57. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
Leadership quotes to inspire you to make your impact in the world
Use the inspiration of these great leaders to encourage you to impact the world around you.
58. “Leadership never ascends from the pew to the pulpit, but invariably descends from the pulpit to the pew.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
59. “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
60. “Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.” — Nelson Mandela
61. “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” — Barack Obama
62. “Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
63. “True leaders understand that leadership is not about them but about those they serve. It is not about exalting themselves but about lifting others up.” ― Sheri L. Dew
64. “To lead people, walk beside them. As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence … When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’” — Lao Tzu
65. “A boss has the title, a leader has the people.” — Simon Sinek
66. “The leaders who get the most out of their people are the leaders who care most about their people.” — Simon Sinek
67. “Leading people is the most challenging and, therefore, the most gratifying undertaking of all human endeavors.” — Jocko Willink
Leadership quotes to inspire and teach
These wise words can guide you toward success as a leader.
68. “A leader must lead but also be ready to follow. They must be aggressive but not overbearing. A leader must be calm but not robotic. They must be confident but never cocky.” — Jocko Willink
69. “A leader must exercise ‘extreme ownership’ but employ ‘decentralized command.’ They must have nothing to prove, but everything to prove.” — Jocko Willink
70. “When setting expectations, no matter what has been said or written, if substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable—if there are no consequences—that poor performance becomes the new standard. Therefore, leaders must enforce standards.” — Jocko Willink
71. “I had to take complete ownership of what went wrong. That is what a leader does — even if it means getting fired. If anyone was to be blamed and fired for what happened, let it be me.” — Jocko Willink
72. “Leadership requires belief in the mission and unyielding perseverance to achieve victory.” — Jocko Willink
73. “The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.” — Seth Godin
74. “Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.” — Seth Godin
75. “Leadership distilled down to 3 words: Make a difference.” — Robin Sharma
76. “Victims make excuses. Leaders deliver results.” — Robin Sharma
77. “We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.” — Whoopi Goldberg
More leadership quotes and sayings
Learn about what makes a great leader in the following quotes.
78. “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader. A great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
79. “Leaders don’t create followers. They create more leaders.” — Tom Peters
80. “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” ― Harry S. Truman
81. “Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.” ― L. David Marquet
82. “A leader is someone who helps improve the lives of other people or improve the system they live under.” — Sam Houston
83. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
84. “Every great leader can take you back to a defining moment when they decided to lead.” ― John Paul Warren
85. “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” — Jack Welch
86. “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.” — Peter Drucker
87. “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
Leadership quotes by women
Wise words from women who have been incredible leaders.
88. “The only safe ship in a storm is leadership.” — Faye Wattleton
89. “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” — Estée Lauder
90. “The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang.” — Mary Kay Ash
91. “I don’t go by the rule book. I lead from the heart, not the head.” — Princess Diana
92. “Leadership is a series of behaviors rather than a role for heroes.” — Margaret Wheatley
93. “The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.” — Padmasree Warrior
94. “The amount of good luck coming your way depends on your willingness to act.” — Barbara Sher
95. “Strategic leaders must not get consumed by the operational and tactical side of their work.” — Stephanie S. Mead
Leadership quotes to bring out the leader in you
Grow into your role as a leader with the following quotes.
96. “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” ― John F. Kennedy, [Undelivered remarks for Dallas Trade Mart, November 22, 1963]
97. “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
98. “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
99. “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
100. “To me, leadership is about encouraging people. It’s about stimulating them. It’s about enabling them to achieve what they can achieve – and to do that with a purpose.” ― Christine Lagarde
101. “The hardest thing about being a leader is demonstrating or showing vulnerability. When the leader demonstrates vulnerability and sensibility and brings people together, the team wins.” ― Howard Schultz
Which one of these leadership quotes could become your mantra for greatness?
I hope these leadership quotes have sparked a fire within you that will lead you toward making your mark, gaining influence, and becoming a compassionate shepherd for the people you lead.
All great leaders move forward with boldness and bravery, deliver results consistently, help others, make a difference, lift people up, stay authentic to their true selves, make others better, believe in their mission, persevere with bravery, and stay calm in the face of danger.
If you can take these leadership principles and apply them in your own life, there is no limit to the heights you will climb to and the number of lives you will improve.
What’s your biggest takeaway from these leadership quotes and sayings?
Do you have any other inspirational quotes to add?
Let us know in the comment section below.