95 Leadership Quotes and Lessons by Famous CEOs and Entrepreneurs
A good quote is a powerful motivational tool which can help you grow in all areas of your life. When the quote is by established CEOs and entrepreneurs, who’ve done it all and who are talking from experience, you can learn a great deal about things such as leadership.
Below are 95 quotes about the key areas of leadership: on becoming a leader, having passion and vision, creating the right strategy, getting past the fear of failure, empowering others, and succeeding in leadership. The quotes will hopefully inspire you and give you food for thought on your journey to being a better leader.
LEADERSHIP QUOTES ON BECOMING A LEADER
Let’s first examine the qualities that make a good leader and the road you must be willing to take if you want to become a respectable leader.
#1. “Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.” – Warren Bennis
Bennis points out the essence of leadership, which is about elevating yourself to the next level. Becoming a leader doesn’t mean you try to be something else – there is no magic book you can read and copy the actions in order to be a leader. Becoming a leader is about understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, and improving your character to becoming the true representation of yourself – a leader.
#2. “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller
Leadership is not a skill you either have or you don’t. It requires both experience and continuous development. In order to become a leader, you need to study your field, learn about yourself and discover the different aspects of leadership.
#3. “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” – Norman Schwarzkopf
The above quote is an interesting take on how to be a leader. It essentially emphasizes that leadership is not just a set of practices you must do, but also a showcasing of your personality and your character. To prove yourself as a leader, you need to show character, not a list of achievements.
#4. “You cannot be a leader, and ask other people to follow you, unless you know how to follow, too.” – Sam Rayburn
It’s also important to remember that leading is not just about walking in front of others. In fact, you can learn a lot more about being a good leader by following others. The quote reflects the idea that in order to lead, you need to be able to relate to the experiences of your subordinates.
#5. “The distance between number one and number two is always a constant. If you want to improve the organisation, you have to improve yourself and the organisation gets pulled up with you. That is a big lesson.” – Indra Nooyi
The chairperson and the CEO of PepsiCo points out an important aspect of leadership, which is about the need of continuous self-development. An organization is often only as good as its leader. If you want to elevate your company and its subordinates, you need to enhance your own character and qualities first.
#6. “Great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather by the presence of clear strengths.” – John Zenger
A good leader understands that he or she cannot be perfect. As humans, we all have weaknesses, but success isn’t about the ability to hide those qualities. It is about shining light on the strengths and ensuring you use those to your best ability.
#7. “Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire to raise their own bar.” – Orrin Woodward
Leadership begins with yourself. As Woodward implies, the important thing is to ensure you are looking to develop and up your game. By focusing on self-reflection and self-improvement, you can motivate the people around you to do the same.
#8. “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” – Peter F. Drucker
There are people who are charismatic, who can step into a room and captivate everyone in it with their presence. But leadership isn’t just about the ability to charm others to be on your side. If you have nothing to show for your talent, then you aren’t a true leader. The words you speak essentially have to be meaningful and backed up by actions.
#9. “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” – Ray Kroc
Similarly to Woodward’s quote, Kroc is underlying the crucial nature of self-reflection. Set high standards for yourself and you will inspire those around you. If you showcase strength of character, of conviction and of work morale, you can lead better because you are speaking from experience. As mentioned above, you are backing up your words with actions.
#10. “A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.” – John C. Maxwell
This quote by the CEO of the John Maxwell Company identifies one of the core characteristics of a leader: the ability to learn from your mistakes and the humility to be accountable. It’s not easy to admit you’re wrong, but it takes even more to fix your mistakes.
#11. “Leaders get out in front and stay there by raising the standards by which they judge themselves – and by which they are willing to be judged.” – Frederick W. Smith
Another important lesson in accountability comes from the founder and the CEO of FedEx: leaders can’t avoid accountability. The position of a leader should not be a bubble of protection preventing criticism. If you expect others to perform in a certain way, you need to expect it from yourself as well and be able to take in the feedback when it comes your way.
Here is a great talk with Oprah Winfrey on her career, life, and leadership.
#12. “What you do has far greater impact that what you say.” – Stephen Covey
While words are important, your actions as a leader can speak louder than a thousand words. A leader cannot say one thing, while doing something else. If you show you are accountable through your actions, the subordinates will trust you more than if you simply wrote a lovely letter about corporate responsibility.
#13. “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
DePree’s quote is a simple analysis of the leader’s role. First, it’s about creating the vision and then it’s about ensuring the vision is implemented appropriately. It hints at the importance of empowering others and how crucial it is to remember the significance of the group for success.
#14. “If the leader is filled with high ambition and if he pursues his aims with audacity and strength of will, he will reach them in spite of all obstacles.” – Carl von Clausewitz
The best leaders are ready to aim high, even against the odds. They show strength and courage to keep moving towards their vision because they believe in the message. Ambition is not something to shy away from – you need to search for it in order to succeed as a leader.
#15. “Whether you think you can or you can’t; you’re right.” – Henry Ford
The famous quote by Henry Ford is a powerful example of expectations. If you are expecting to fail your mission, you most likely will. But if you truly believe in yourself, then anything is possible.
#16. “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.” – Sara Blakely
You shouldn’t be afraid of not having enough knowledge, because the realization of this will always lead you to the path of discovery and learning. If you admit you don’t know how something works, you immediately force yourself to go out and find out more. You might even look into applying the knowledge you already have in order to solve the problem. On the other hand, if you pretend you have all the answers, you stop improving and you risk failing your quest for achieving your objectives.
LEADERSHIP QUOTES ON HAVING PASSION AND A VISION
One of the most important things a leader needs to have is passion. Without passion, it’s hard to create a compelling argument for people to follow you. Once you’ve found your passion as a leader, you need to develop vision and ensure you communicate it to your followers in an inspiring manner.
#17. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs
The co-founder and former CEO of Apple certainly knew about having a vision. Leaders are in that position because they distinguish themselves from the rest of the team. The best way to step up is by creating a vision no one else has thought about. Jobs had a vision of a phone that wasn’t just about the phone, but of a specific user experience. He pursued the idea even when it seemed unobtainable at the time.
#18. “There exist limitless opportunities in every industry. Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.” – Charles F. Kettering
The quote is a good reminder of the endless opportunities we have in our grasp. Breaking into an industry is never easy, but a good leader is able to see markets where there aren’t any.
#19. “Leadership and culture aren’t about being the boss or being in control; they are about creating shared visions and goals, and then inspiring, empowering and influencing others to achieve more than they ever thought possible.” – Gary Brooks
Urjanet’s CMO outlines an important lesson about the essence of leadership. It requires just a few building blocks: creating a vision, establishing objectives, empowering others, and achieving greatness as a team. You shouldn’t complicate leadership, but accept it for what it is.
#20. “Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.” – Tony Hsieh
Hsieh’s quote has a powerful message. As a leader, the aim should always be to pursue your dreams, despite the odds or the immediate financial viability. You can’t get into business only by calculating the profits because profits will always follow if your ideas are good. ‘How to make money?’ is not a great starting point. Instead, you want to say, ‘This is my passion; now how will I turn it into a business?’
#21. “I try not to make any decisions that I’m not excited about.” – Jake Nickell
A leader will need to make many decisions. Not necessarily in terms of being in charge of everything, but even delegating decision-making to others is a judgment call for the leader. The CEO of Threadless has said his secret is about focusing on the things that inspire him as a leader. When you are passionate about the topic, you’ll most likely research the answers carefully, which will lead to better decision-making and more success.
#22. “If you think you are leading and turn around to see no one following, then you are just taking a walk.” – Benjamin Hooks
Of course, having a vision isn’t enough. You can’t call yourself a leader if you have no one listening to your message. Leaders need to define their vision in a way that inspires others. This requires a good understanding of the things you are trying to achieve and the ability to communicate clearly.
#23. “Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” – Brian Tracy
Your mindset needs to be on the solution and not the problem. It’s possible to focus on analyzing a problem for a long time, mainly because it is easier than discussing how to solve it. Instead of wasting your energy on the problem, spend more time considering the different solutions available to you.
#24. “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” – Farrah Gray
Leaders are different than followers because the leader is willing to fight for their vision and dreams. As a leader, you need to provide the vision and you need to have a clear idea of where you want to be. Otherwise, you will simply be following someone else’s.
#25. “A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspired the power and energy to get it done.” – Ralph Lauren
The fashion mogul knows passion and vision alone are not enough. The leader must show conviction to execute the plans accordingly. You can’t just dream big, you must show willingness to put your own energy into turning those dreams into reality.
#26. “The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.” – John Scully
As mentioned in some of the earlier quotes, a leader is someone who is able to see the future before it happens. A good visionary leader is not looking to improve what is already out there, but to look beyond the current stage of things and find a new way of doing things.
#27. “The very essence of leadership is [that] you 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.” – Theodore Hesburgh
Hesburgh’s quote highlights not just the importance of having vision, but the conviction to follow it. You need to be able to trust and believe in your ideas, because no one will buy your idea if you don’t. You wouldn’t buy a car from a person who seems unsure whether it will last beyond the next week and you wouldn’t follow a leader who doesn’t believe in his or her message.
#28. “It’s not what the vision is, it’s what the vision does.” – Peter Senge
Senge makes an interesting point about the need for your vision to be executable and to create real change. Creating a vision is easy, but creating one that creates a positive change and transforms the organization or the people in it for something better can be tough. Don’t just focus on the plan and the way to get things done; highlight the outcome in terms of change and transformation as well.
#29. “Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you can imagine it.” – George Lucas
We are all too often reminded about ‘keeping it real’ and keeping our feet on the ground. But sometimes you need big dreams to move forward. Many of our greatest inventions wouldn’t have happened if someone didn’t dare to dream beyond the current capabilities.
#30. “When you have vision it affects your attitude. Your attitude is optimistic rather than pessimistic.” – Charles R. Swindoll
Having a vision is not just important in terms of generating a strategy. As Swindoll’s quote suggests, having goals will also positively influence your attitude. Studies show how people with goals are more successful than people who don’t set milestones for themselves.
#31. “One of the things that may get in the way of people being lifelong learners is that they’re not in touch with their passion. If you’re passionate about what it is you do, then you’re going to be looking for everything you can to get better at it.” – Jack Canfield
Staying on top of your game is not easy if you’re not playing the game you are passionate about. Passion is the best motivator and motivation is required for leadership to work. You can rise to the top by perseverance in almost anything you set your mind to. But you will only stay there if you are passionate to keep your focus and to improve every single day.
#32. “Purpose may point you in the right direction but it’s passion that propels you.” – Travis McAshan
As mentioned above, passion is the perfect way to motivate yourself to take the next step. It doesn’t mean things wouldn’t be hard or you wouldn’t occasionally feel like giving up. It simply means that after a moment, you can still feel the fire is there inside you to keep moving.
LEADERSHIP QUOTES ON CREATING THE RIGHT STRATEGY
When the vision is set, leadership becomes all about outlining and executing your strategy. For a leader, the ability to create a compelling strategy that inspires other people will be the key to success.
#33. “One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognise a problem before it becomes an emergency.” – Arnold Glasow
Leadership is essentially about taking action rather than a reaction to what is happening. Therefore, a good leader is not only able to create a vision to move towards, but to ensure problems are dealt with before they start sinking the ship.
#34. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Harold R. McAlindon
McAlindon’s quote continues the theme set forward in the previous section. As a leader, you want to create a new path rather than follow someone else’s footsteps. But your vision also has to be compelling enough to ensure others can follow you. This requires you to present a strong vision and be willing to guide the people walking behind you.
#35. “Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.” – Mary Kay Ash
When you are creating a strategy for your leadership, remember the above lesson from the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics. Don’t set boundaries to your success, but dream big and follow your vision.
#36. “Telling people not what they want to hear but what they need to hear is a key element of being able to lead.” – John Smith
Leadership can be a tough challenge, not least because it requires you to occasionally do and say things that aren’t what people want to hear. Leadership is not about pleasing others or pretending everything is fine when the roof is on fire. You need to be prepared to say it like it is, but to communicate your message in a positive rather than negative manner.
#37. “Example is not the main thing in influencing others; it is the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer
Schweitzer is adamant setting an example is the only strategy for a leader. The point is important because too many leaders today, simply stay in the ivory tower and bark orders. It’s important to show the subordinates you lead by example because it shows two things. First, it tells you have the knowledge and experience to ask for the actions and behaviors. Second, you highlight your ability to understand the experience of others. You are essentially showing empathy because you are telling them you know the sacrifice or the effort, since you’ve been there too.
#38. “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
Similar to the above quote, Kesay makes the point of leading through example. As a leader, you must be willing to do the things you are asking your subordinates to do. This shows you have knowledge of how things work in the real world.
#39. “I don’t think just trying to maximise profits is a very good long-term strategy for a business. It doesn’t inspire the people who work for you.” – John Mackey
In terms of strategy, Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey’s quote reveals the essence of leadership and longevity. You need the strategy to be built around your vision – to have a long-term focus and short-term inspiration to keep the subordinates engaged and interested.
#40. “You have to be very nimble and very open minded. Your success is going to be very dependent on how you adapt” – Jeremy Stoppelman
As mentioned before, leadership is about change. But this doesn’t just mean change in terms of implementing your vision, but also in terms of adjusting to the constant moving environment around you. No business can survive without the ability to accept and embrace change. As a leader, you need to be able to adjust the strategy depending on the situation and be open-minded to take in new information.
#41. “Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself – your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers.” – Dee Hock
Hock’s quote explains the key aspects to a solid leadership framework. You need to continue investing in your own development, in terms of improving your skills and building up your character. But you also need to learn more about the people surrounding you, those in higher positions and those who are part of your team.
#42. “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 humour, but without folly.” Jim Rohn
The above is a beautiful illustration of the different qualities you need as a leader and those you don’t. It’s easy to see the position of power abused, but if you maintain your empathy and stick to your convictions, you can treat people with respect and still achieve the objectives.
#43. “Ninety percent of leadership is the ability to communicate something people want.” – Dianne Feinstein
Feinstein’s quote reveals the one skill you need to invest in, if you are passionate about becoming a better leader, is communication. The ability to communicate can be a powerful tool for motivating, inspiring and guiding people. If you are good at it, you can save yourself from a number of common communication mistakes and maintain a happy team.
#44. “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.” – Stephen R. Covey
Since leadership is about change, you won’t be able to see the path ahead of you. This often means the strategies you use and the actions you take won’t be tried and tested. It’s your job as the leader to go ahead and make way to others following behind you.
#45. “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
John Kenneth Galbraith quote is a strong reminder of what leadership should be about. It isn’t about the title or the money; it’s not often about becoming a leader either. Leadership happens when you care deeply about something and you want to change things around for the benefit of a team, an industry, or even the society. It shouldn’t be about what you can achieve, but what you can do for the wider community.
Learn more about servant leadership in this great TED talk.
#46. “Nothing stops an organisation faster than people who believe that the way you worked yesterday is the best way to work tomorrow.” – Jon Madonna
Another reminder of the importance of keeping your eyes open and staying open-minded comes from Jon Madonna. You can’t stop innovating or thinking about new strategies just because your business is currently doing well and your leadership is working. Tomorrow can bring plenty of new challenges and you need to keep looking ahead.
#47. “Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.” – Kenichi Ohmae
Overall, without a proper strategy, leadership will not work. You can have the characteristics, the skills and the passion, but if you don’t have a plan to execute, you might as well be rowing on dry land.
LEADERSHIP QUOTES ON GETTING PAST THE FEAR OF FAILURE
If there is one obstacle to obtaining and maintaining solid leadership, it is the fear of failure or of the unknown. Plenty of entrepreneurs have experienced this and the below quotes are the perfect motivation to move beyond the fear.
#48. “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” – Drew Houston
The founder and the CEO of Dropbox gives a short but valuable tip: success is success no matter when you achieve it. The fact you failed ten times before you got it right doesn’t matter: what matters is that you eventually achieved what you set out to achieve. Success shouldn’t have a timeline.
#49. “Fail often so you can succeed sooner.” – Tom Kelley
Since failure is inevitable, you shouldn’t be afraid of it. In fact, just as Ideo’s founder suggests above, you should embrace the failure from the start. Failure is always a lesson and you’ll learn from each mistake you make – all of which makes success faster to come by.
#50. “I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” – John D. Rockefeller
Leadership is often about winning against the odds. As Rockefeller suggests with the above quote, you need to be able to stand in the wind and the rain in order to see the sunshine.
#51. “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” – Tony Robbins
If you make a cup of coffee every morning, you can’t be disappointed it never tastes like tea. In order to succeed in something you want but don’t have, you need to look at your approach and change it accordingly. Every leader has to have the ability to look whether the approach is working or not. While perseverance is essential, you should never keep hitting your head on the wall to get through if there is a door in the room.
#52. “You don’t concentrate on risks. You concentrate on results. No risk is too great to prevent the necessary job from getting done.” – Chuck Yeager
Yeager provides leaders a helpful mindset with the above quote. The focus should never be on the things that can go wrong, but on the objectives, you are hoping to fulfill. Define your success and measure your progress with it, not with failure.
You need to take smart risks.
#53. “The things we fear most in organisations – fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances – are the primary sources of creativity.” – Margaret Wheatley
The above is a powerful reminder of the dangers of conformity. Change is the most powerful driver of creativity because it forces people to think differently. As a leader and an organization, you need to embrace change and disruption, using it for something good.
#54. “It takes humility to realise that we don’t know everything, not to rest on our laurels, and to know that we must keep learning and observing. If we don’t, we can be sure some startup will be there to take our place.” – Cher Wang
The co-founder of HTC reminds us with the quote about humility. Leadership requires you to occasionally step back and remember you don’t always have to have the answers – in fact, it’s good to seek other people’s opinion and advice regularly.
#55. “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller
Leadership does often require sacrifices. The comfortable job you have, with the steady salary might be good, but are they enough? If you want to achieve greatness, you can’t settle for good. Stepping out from the comfort zone is not easy, but it is possible.
#56. “Those who let things happen usually lose to those who make things happen.” – Dave Weinbaum
Similar to the above quote, Weinbaum reminds people about the importance of being a person of action and not a person of reaction. If you are actively out there, seeking improvement and success, you’re more likely to encounter it than the person just hoping to grasp onto it once it passes by.
#57. “If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.” – Robert Fritz
Leadership is about going after a vision you want and which you see as the best objective for the organization. It’s not about finding a vision or path that is the easiest or the most likelihood. It’s about following your convictions.
#58. “Success is 99 percent failure.” – Soichiro Honda
In a similar vein to what has been said above, Honda defines the essence of success as the acceptance of failure. Success is hard to achieve and it’s even harder to do it without ever failing. In essence, Honda’s message resonates the age-old wisdom of ‘practice makes perfect’.
#59. “Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” – Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel’s view is definitely interesting because it points out the problem of focusing on failure. It essentially tells how much easier it is to go after your dreams, if you don’t cripple yourself with the knowledge of failure. Stop focusing on the things you have to lose and turn your attention to the things you can gain.
#60. “A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.” – John Burroughs
When the inevitable happens and you make a mistake and fail, you should never simply look around you and start pointing the finger at others. Leadership is about accountability and you need to be able to first study the things you could have done better or differently, before you begin the blame-game.
#61. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
Edison’s way of looking at failure is interesting because it actually redefines the meaning of failure. He doesn’t want to view those moments as mistakes, but as opportunities to learn.
#62. “Even when you go after a more ambitious goal, even if you fail to achieve that one, all the side effects that come along the way can be that much more rewarding and significant in their own right.” – Sergey Brin
Google’s co-founder highlights the importance of trying and the opportunities a failed attempt will provide. Having a go at things and not succeeding doesn’t mean you failed – you might have actually learned a lesson that will help you avoid an even bigger fall in the future.
#63. “All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.” – Michael John Bobak
Overall, for a leader to succeed, the idea of maintaining the status quo is something to avoid. Leadership in its essence is about the movement towards something else. You’ll never move from Point A to Point B, if you aren’t willing to step out of the comfort zone.
LEADERSHIP QUOTES ON EMPOWERING OTHERS
Leadership is not a solo sport, although it might seem like it. In many instances, it is the people around the team helping the leader become better; something famous CEOs and entrepreneurs have understood well.
#64. “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 above quote by the former GE chairman and CEO highlight the essence of empowering others. Leadership is a position that provides you the tools that guarantee others can aim to elevate themselves – just as you did before them.
#65. “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” – Sheryl Sandberg
Empowering others is an important part of leadership because it can help the organization prepare for the future. By mentoring the leaders of tomorrow, the organization can guarantee succession is part of the bigger vision.
#66. “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” – Harvey S. Firestone
A big part of leadership is about the desire to help others excel. According to Firestone, it’s the most important aspect of it, as you should focus your efforts on enhancing the character and abilities of your subordinates.
#67. “Having a personality of caring about people is important. You can’t be a good leader unless you generally like people. That is how you bring out the best in them.” – Sir Richard Branson
The quote by the founder of the Virgin Group highlights a key quality of leadership: empathy. You need to be able to relate to others and wish them well before you can excel as a leader.
#68. “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.” – Zig Ziglar
Gaining a position of power will take a lot of hard work, but it isn’t something you achieve on your own. Don’t forget about the people along the way that guided you and believed in you. Likewise, don’t forget that by believing in others, you can help them in their journey.
#69. ”There is a hero in all of us. What you need is a leader to make people realise that they don’t have to be less than ordinary, that they can be more than ordinary.” – Christo Wiese
A good leader is able to showcase people the possibilities awaiting them if they work hard and believe in themselves. Being and doing something worthwhile doesn’t mean you need to be in a top position or have a special title. A good leader can show everyone just how important he or she is for the team.
#70. “Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.” – Seth Godin
When you gain a leadership position, you will gain immense power to provide opportunities for others. Use your platform to give voice to others, instead of just building a taller podium for yourself. By empowering others to develop their ideas, you can improve your own understanding and therefore, refine your vision and action plan for something better.
#71. “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates
The co-founder of Microsoft outlines the most important reason for empowering others. By being the leader who develops and inspires others, you guarantee a succession of leadership within not just the organization, but also the wider society.
#72. “Leaders don’t inflict pain, they share pain.” – Max de Pree
The above quote perfectly illustrates the wrong idea many have about leadership. They equate power to lack of empathy or care for others. But leadership is never about getting your own way, no matter the consequences.
#73. “A leader is a person you will follow to a place you would not go by yourself.” – Joel Barker
Leader’s role is comparable to an icebreaker. The leader must be at the forefront of the organization and sort out the issues that might slow the way. They need to inspire the subordinates by showing courage in the face of adversity. Breaking down barriers and implementing a new vision might not be easy, but followers tend to go with the leader, if the leader shows them the right way to go and removes the obstacles out of the way.
#74. “High expectations are the key to absolutely everything.” – Sam Walton
The founder of Wal-Mart teaches an important lesson with the above quote. While you need to elevate others and guide them in your role as a leader, you should never expect anything but the best from your team. Set the standards high and you’ll see success. Leadership is about helping others move along, not dragging them through.
#75. “A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.” – Simon Sinek
Sometimes the leader’s job is not to hold the hands of the subordinates, but rather to allow them grow at their own pace. There are occasions when leaders can help the best by providing the tools and the framework, but letting the subordinates find their own way of making use of it.
#76. “A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.” – David Gergen
It’s not always enough to provide the team with the resources to help them develop their skills and characteristics. The leader should also enhance their aspirations and help them see they also can dream big. A leader should not just focus on helping the person achieve his or her dreams, but to take a closer look at those aspirations and elevate them higher as well.
#77. “You know, as most entrepreneurs do, that a company is only as good as its people. The hard part is actually building the team that will embody your company culture and proper you forward.” – Kathryn Minshew
Leaders succeed because they surround themselves with the right team. It’s imperative for the leader to outline a company culture and find the people that nurture the culture, not hinder it.
#78. “People want guidance, not rhetoric; they need to know what the plan of action is and how it will be implemented. They want to be given responsibility to help solve the problem and the authority to act on it.” – Howard Schultz
Essentially, the above quote by the founder of Starbucks brings together the different elements we’ve discussed above. Subordinates want the leader to show through example, what they can achieve; they want the leader to help them elevate their own ambitions and abilities; and they want to be given the resources to help with the implementation of the vision.
#79. “You cannot have faith in people unless you take action to improve and develop them.” – Sumatra Ghoshal
The above quote is an essential lesson in the power of knowledge and why it needs to be shared, not hidden. As a leader, you need to provide the subordinates with the right knowledge and resources to succeed – if you do this, the rest is up to them.
LEADERSHIP QUOTES ON ACHIEVING SUCCESS
So, what do entrepreneurs and CEOs think about success? In the final section, we’ll explore how success is defined and what you should be willing to do as a leader in order to achieve it.
#80. “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.” – John Buchan
The above quote is a beautiful reminder of the power of leadership. Success is the ability to pursue to vision and bring about change that can empower and elevate people around it.
#81. “The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” – Colin R. Davis
Davis’ reminder is an important lesson to learn. As discussed above, failure is part of the experience of leadership and by continuing to push forward; you will eventually come to the point where you’ve succeeded.
#82. “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” – Reid Hoffman
The co-founder of LinkedIn makes an important point about success. You won’t succeed on your own and you should never forget about the team. Even the world’s best solo sportspersons have a team of physicians, trainers and so on behind them to support the journey. As a leader, you need to remember this. While you might have created the vision, you will need other people to help you execute it to perfection.
#83. “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or go to get all the credit for doing it.” – Andrew Carnegie
Relating to the above quote, Carnegie’s quote reminds about the importance of acknowledging the help. Leadership is not about putting yourself on a podium, but helping others climb up the mountain with you. If you are seeking fame and glory, defining success by just what happens to you, you won’t succeed in becoming a great leader.
#84. “The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow.” – Ingvar Kamprad
Once the feeling of success sneaks upon you, remember this quote by the founder of IKEA. Enjoy your achievements for a moment, but don’t become complacent. There is no quicker way to destroy the hard work than lying down to marvel your accomplishments. There are people out there looking to get ahead of you and they will if you turn your attention away from the road.
#85. “Unless you choose to do great things with it, makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have.” – Oprah Winfrey
One of the world’s most successful female entrepreneurs knows where the real success comes from: improvement. Whether you are improving the company, the subordinates, the society or the environment, set yourself to change things for the better.
#86. “You shouldn’t gloat about anything you’ve done. You ought to keep going and try to find something better to do.” – David Packard
Your accomplishments will speak for themselves, they don’t need you to do PR. Don’t spend your time telling people what you’ve done, but go out there and continue proving your point by creating change.
#87. “There are countless ways of achieving greatness, but any road to achieving one’s maximum potential must be built on a bedrock of respect for the individual, a commitment to excellence, and a rejection of mediocrity.” – Buck Rodgers
Rodgers hammers home the keys to success: respect, commitment and thirst for greatness. Success won’t be achieved by putting down others or by finding shortcuts to avoid hard work. You most definitely won’t be a great leader if you don’t set the standards high.
#88. “Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.” – Anne Sweeney
You shouldn’t try to recreate another person’s success or look at your accomplishments through the lens of someone else’s. You can define leadership in terms of what it means to you and what you want to accomplish. You don’t need to follow what other’s have done or think you have failed because you aren’t in the same spot as the competing CEO. Stop trying to be the next Arianna Huffington, Jay-Z or Bill Gates and instead focus on determining your own goals and successes.
#89. ”I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” – Estée Lauder
The beauty mogul provides a short, yet important message: success doesn’t happen on paper, it happens in the real world. A plan is nothing more than a guide for execution and action.
#90. “Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work.” – Vinnie Rege
Once you’ve defined what success means to you, you can start working towards it every day. Rege’s quote is not to say you necessarily need to be on the Forbes list to prove you’ve made it. It’s merely a reminder you shouldn’t forget to assess your current situation in relation to where you want to be every single day. You won’t notice progress unless you keep measuring it. Remember, just because you aren’t there today, doesn’t mean you can’t be there tomorrow – don’t give up.
#91. “What I’ve learned is that if you really want to be successful at something, you’ll find that you put the time in. You won’t just ask somebody if it’s a good idea, you’ll go figure out if it’s a good idea.” – Mark Cuban
The Shark Tank entrepreneur provides a good example of determination and passion: the key building blocks to success. If you are driven and you have a vision you truly believe in, the success will follow because you’ll want to put the work in and you’ll want to develop and improve. If you want to become successful, then you need to find the thing that makes you passionate.
#92. “There’s no scientific answer for success. You can’t define it. You’ve simply got to live and do it.” – Anita Roddick
The Internet is full of guides on how to succeed in your career and in leadership. But the truth is that while information will always help on your journey and provide you with direction, the real success is down to action. As the founder of The Body Shop once said, “You’ve simply got to live and do it.”
#93. “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
You should never build your success on the back of other people’s failures or pain, but you can’t keep everyone in the world happy. People are different and differences of opinion are bound to happen in the business world. As long as you know what you are doing, you know it doesn’t intentionally hurt anyone, and you are committed to your goals, you can succeed.
#94. “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.”- Jim Rohn
The road to the top is not easy and you will feel inadequate as a leader on a number of occasions. But no one became a great leader overnight. What defines you as a success is how you rise to the occasion when you know you aren’t good enough. Instead of giving up, you will go and find out how to be better – just as Rohn says.
#95. “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon
Finally, the above quote by the legendary hairstylist is a magnificent guideline for leadership and business in general. If you aren’t willing to work, then success won’t happen.
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