Leadership Quotes
Leaders in their own words

For a while now I have been gathering some of the best and most famous leadership quotes together into my own library. Here are my favourites. I have found these quotes on leadership very inspiring - I hope you do to.

Of course, some of the leaders are indeed famous and well known. Others you may not have heard of. One of the youngest was a teenage new employee on a team development programme I ran. Her insight and understanding was profound.

Some of the quotes are not attributed. If you know who first said it, please let me know using the contact me form and I will put it right. In just a very cases they are unattributed because they were written by a shy and modest leadership consultant!

"The problems with this world cannot possibly be solved by sceptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need people who can dream of things that never were." John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)

"I do not think 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

“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin

“Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.” Charles M. Shulz

“Success in the marketplace increasingly depends on learning. Yet most people don’t know how to learn.” Chris Argyris

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

"A mind is a fire to be ignited, not a vessel to be filled." Plutarch

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” Joel A. Barker

“The world is moving so fast that the person who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by the person who is already doing it.” Elbert Hubbard

"He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool.Shun him. He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is ignorant. Teach him. He who knows, and knows that he knows, is a wise man. Follow him. He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep. Wake him." 12th century Arabic saying

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” George Harrison

"One can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation." Plato

Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching. Sing like nobody's listening.Live like it's heaven on earth.

"If you want one year of prosperity, grow seeds. If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people." Chinese proverb

“Look wide, and even when you think you are looking wide – look wider still.” Robert Baden-Powell (1857–1941), Founder of the Scout Movement

“If you measure what you value, then others will value what you measure.”

Give each letter of the alphabet a number equal to its position (eg, A = 1 & Z = 26), and add up the numbers for these words - Knowledge, Hard work, Attitude. Only one word adds up to 100%. The others are just not enough !!

May there always be work for your hands to do. May your purse always hold a coin or two. May the sun always shine on your window pane. May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain. May the hand of a friend always be near you. May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

"Time is limited, so I better wake each morning fresh and know that I have just one chance to live this particular day right, and to string my days together into a life of action and purpose". Lance Armstrong

“There are no barriers, only challenges.” Gemma Brown

“The one constant in life is change.”

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw

“If you don’t want to grow old, then slow down the slowing down process.” Daly Thompson

“If you always do what you’ve always done, You’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

“The main obstacle to effective communication is the belief that it has already happened.”

“I am who I have learned to be. I will be who I choose to be.”

“We awaken in others the same attitude of mind we hold toward them.” Elbert Hubbard

“My philosophy of life is that if we make up our minds what we are going to make of our lives, then work hard toward that goal, we never lose...” Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), 40th President of the United States

Either we are pulling together or we are pulling apart. Winners never quit and quitters never win.

“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

If you are too busy to help those around you succeed, you are too busy.

“None of us is as smart as all of us.” Ken Blanchard

“The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” Henry Ford

“He who wishes to secure the good of others, has already secured his own.” Confucius

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an event but a habit.” Aristotle, 384 – 322 BC

“If I have been able to see farther than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.” Sir Isaac Newton

“Celebrate what you want to see more of.” Tom Peters

“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” Thomas Roosevelt

“This is the team. We are trying to go to the moon. If you can’t put someone up, please don’t put them down.” NASA motto

“Four things come not back: the spoken word, the sped arrow, time past and the neglected opportunity.” Omar Ibnal-Halif

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, But their echoes are truly endless.” Mother Theresa

"How you spend your time defines who you are." Oprah Winfrey

“I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); heir names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.” Rudyard Kipling

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English playwright & poet

“Learning is not compulsory … neither is survival.” W Edwards Deming (1900–1993)

“At one time leadership meant muscle; but today it means getting along with people.” Indira Gandhi

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” Ken Blanchard

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” John F. Kennedy

“The ultimate leader is one who is willing to develop people to the point where they surpass them in knowledge and ability.” Fred A. Manske, Jr

“Leadership has a harder job to than just choose sides. It must bring sides together.” Jesse Jackson

“A boss creates fear, a leader confidence. A boss fixes blame, a leader corrects mistakes. A boss knows all, a leader asks questions. A boss makes work drudgery, a leader makes it interesting. A boss is interested in themselves, a leader is interested in the group.” Russell H. Ewing

“If you don’t know where you are going, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there.” The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

“Systems make it possible, but people make it happen.” Brown & Sharpe

“There’s only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything.” Vince Lombardi

“The door of opportunity won’t open unless you do some pushing.”

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” Lance Armstrong

“I believe life is a series of near misses. A lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It's seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future.” Howard Schultz, Chairman of Starbucks Coffee

“The problems that exist in this world can not be solved by the level of thinking that created them.” Albert Einstein

“Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” Anthony Robbins

“No leader -> no vision. No vision -> no future. No future -> no hope.” Jonas, Paul, Richard, Robin, Sean & Steve

“Review for a clearer view.” Cameron, Chris, Jason, Paul, & Ulrika

“The future is not ours to take. The future is ours to give.”

“Ideals survive through change. They die through inertia in the face of challenge.” Tony Blair

“Those who dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day act out their dream with open eyes and make it possible.” T.E. Lawrence

“Deep within man dwell those slumbering powers. Powers that would astonish him, that he never dreamed of possessing. Forces that would revolutionise his life if aroused and put into action.” Orson Scott Marden

“What lies behind us & what lies before us are tiny matters when compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It may be that when we no longer know which way to go we have begun the real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed.” Wendell Derry

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be.” Nelson Mandela

“You see things and you say, ‘Why?’. But I dream things and I say, ‘Why not?’.” George Bernard Shaw

“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” John Lennon

“Insanity is doing the same thing over & over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

“Language most shows a man. Speak that I may see thee.” Ben Johnson

“If we learned to walk and talk the way we learn to read and write, everyone would limp and stutter.” Mark Twain

“The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live.” Joan Borysenko

“Fortune favours the bold.” Aristotle

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” Albert Einstein

“The first question which the priest & the Levite asked was, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But... the good Samaritan reversed the question. ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’ ” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz(Winner 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature)

“It’s not the strongest that will survive, nor the most intelligent. It’s the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin

“There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity.”General Douglas MacArthur

“We define integrity as those shared values, attitudes and behaviours that help us to act correctly in our lives and at home, at work and in society.” Roger Steare & Christopher Jamieson

“Listen to the fool. You might learn something.” Plato

“The mind is like an umbrella. Its most useful when open.” Walter Gropius

“It is the mark of an educated man to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Aristotle

"Leaders have to be dealers in hope.” Napolean

“Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” St Francis of Assisi

"There are no secrets to success: don't waste time looking for them. Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty to those for whom you work, and persistence." Colin Powell, Former US Secretary of State

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” Martin Luther King

"This became a credo of mine... attempt the impossible in order to improve your work." Bette Davis, Actress

“What other people do or say is their stuff; how we react is our stuff.”

"We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up in teams, we would be reorganised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by re-organising. And a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation.” The Ancient Roman, Petronus Arbitor, Governor of Bithynia

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” Vincent Van Gogh, Painter

“Everything can be taken away from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms - to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor & psychiatrist

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Gandhi

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”John Powell

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.” Zig Ziglar

“Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” Chinese proverb

“You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.” Henry Drummond, 1851-1897Scientist, Evangelist and Author

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” Lao Tzu

“Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it onto future generations.” George Bernard Shaw

“Change starts when someone sees the next step.” William Drayton

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” Oprah Winfrey

“All of the great achievers of the past have been visionary figures; they were men and women who projected into the future. They thought of what could be, rather than what already was, and then they moved themselves into action, to bring these things into fruition.” Bob Proctor

“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.” Hugh Downs, Veteran Journalist

“You can tell more about a person by what they say about others than you can by what others say about them.” Leo Aikman, Writer and Newspaper Editor

“Keep away from small people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great.” Mark Twain, 1835-1910, Writer and Humorist

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr

“In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970, Author and Mathematician

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” John Lennon

“In the presence of greatness, pettiness disappears. In the absence of a great dream, pettiness prevails.” Robert FritzComposer, Filmmaker and Author

“Never does a man portray his character more vividly than when proclaiming the character of another.” Winston Churchill, 1874-1965

“Effective teams realise dreams.” Gary, Haydon, Karl

“What we learn today will shape our tomorrow.” Graham, Ian, Mat, Michele

“If you always have the same idea, you will always have the same result.” Anna, Jim, Kezban, Nathan

“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” Helen Keller, 1880-1968

“I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” Abraham Maslow, 1908-1970, Psychologist

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1962, Former First Lady of the U.S.

"The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own." Benjamin Disraeli1804-1881, Former British Prime Minister

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” Douglas Adams

“Picture yourself vividly as winning and that alone will contribute immeasurably to success. Great living starts with a picture, held in your imagination, of what you would like to do or be.” Harry Emerson Fosdick, 1878-1969, Minister

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” Charles Kingsley, 1819 – 1875, Author & Clergyman

“You can and should shape your own future; because if you don't someone else surely will.” Joel A. Barker

“No one will thank you for taking care of the present if you have neglected the future.” Joel A. Barker

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.” Anatole France, 1844-1924, Novelist

“Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.” Benjamin Disraeli, 1804-1881, British Statesman and Prime Minister

“There is nothing noble in being superior to some other person. True nobility comes from being superior to your previous self.” Hindu proverb

“What man is a man that does not make the world better?” Balian,“Kingdom of Heaven”, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 2005

“No person was ever honoured for what they received. Honour has been the reward for what they gave.” Calvin Coolidge, 1872-1933, Former President of the United States

“Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon them and to let them know that you trust them.” Booker T. Washington, 1856-1915, Educator and Writer

“If you want to know your past - look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future - look into your present actions.” Chinese proverb

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hoffer

“One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1962, Former American First Lady

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” Christopher Reeve, 1952-2004, Actor and Speaker

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” Benjamin Disraeli1804-1881, Former British Prime Minister

“There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.” Quote by Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

“Look wide, beyond your immediate surroundings and limits, and you see things in their right proportion. Look above the level of things around you and see a higher aim and possibility to your work.” Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941), Founder of the Scout Movement

“People think I'm disciplined. It is not discipline. It is devotion. There is a great difference.” Luciano Pavarotti, 1935-2007 Opera Singer

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

"If you doubt you can accomplish something, then you can't accomplish it. You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through." Rosslyn Carter, Former First Lady of the United State of America

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.” Louisa May Alcott, 1832-1888, Author

“People who consider themselves victims of their circumstances will always remain victims unless they develop a greater vision for their lives.” Stedman Graham, Speaker, Author and Educator

“If you know what to do to reach your goal, it’s not a big enough goal.” Bob Proctor, Author and Speaker

“It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.” William James, 1842-1910, Psychologist, Professor and Author

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Nelson Mandela

“Really big people are, above everything else, courteous, considerate and generous - not just to some people in some circumstances - but to everyone all the time.” Thomas J. Watson, 1874 - 1956, Founder of IBM

“When you face your fear, most of the time you will discover that it was not really such a big threat after all. We all need some form of deeply rooted, powerful motivation - it empowers us to overcome obstacles so we can live our dreams.” Les Brown, Speaker & Author

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” Art Linkletter, Radio and TV Personality

“It is good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven't lost the things money can't buy.” George Lorimer, 1867-1937, Editor of Saturday Evening Post

“Make each day useful and cheerful and prove that you know the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be happy, old age without regret and life a beautiful success.” Louisa May Alcott, 1832-1888, Author

"You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down." Mary Pickford, 1893-1979, Actress and Producer

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