135 Most Inspiring Quotes on Leadership for Leaders

Leadership steers others toward a common goal through listening, motivating, inspiring and encouraging them.

Leadership is all about persuading and motivating people to greatness. Vision, dedication, and the ability to encourage and steer a team toward a common goal are required.

Being a leader, on the other hand is not always simple and could pose its own set of obstacles.


We’ve selected some of the most inspirational leadership quotes to help you remain focused and inspired on your leadership path.

These quotes give insight and wisdom from some of history’s greatest leaders, as well as the motivation and advice you need to lead with purpose and effect.

Best Quotes on Leadership

1. “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” ~ John C. Maxwell

2. “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” ~ Kenneth H. Blanchard

3. “He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.” ~ Aristotle

4. “Leadership is the key to 99 percent of all successful efforts.” ~ Erskine Bowles


5. “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

6. “Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” ~ Bill Bradley.


7. “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” ~ Peter F. Drucker

8. “Don’t follow the crowd. Let the crowd follow you.” ~ Margaret Thatcher

9. A cowardly leader is the most dangerous of men. ~ Stephen King

10. “When the leader lacks confidence, the followers lack commitment.” ~ John C. Maxwell.

11. A ship is always safe at shore but that is not what it’s built for. ~ Albert Einstein.

Also Read: 43 Black Leaders Quotes to Celebrate Black History Month and 53 Servant Leadership Quotes and Sayings to Inspire You

Great Quotes on Leadership

12. “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

13. “There is a difference between being a leader and being a boss. Both are based on authority. A boss demands blind obedience; a leader earns his authority through understanding and trust.” ~ Klaus Balkenhol

14. “A person who is quietly confident makes the best leader.” ~ Fred Wilson

15. “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” ~ Vince Lombardi

16. “A leader is a dealer in hope.” ~ Napoleon

17. “A person, who no matter how desperate the situation, gives others hope, is a true leader.” ~ Daisaku Ikeda

18. “The task of the leader is to get people from where they are to where they have not been. ” ~ Henry Kissinger

19. “Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” ~ John C. Maxwell

20. “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

21. “Leadership is the challenge to be something more than average.” ~ Jim Rohn

22. “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” ~ Bill Gates.

23. “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

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. “Real leadership is being the person others will gladly and confidently follow.” ~ John C. Maxwell

26. “A leader who produces other leaders multiples their influences.” ~ John C. Maxwell

27. “You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

28. “Leadership is not just about giving energy… it’s unleashing other people’s energy.” ~ Paul Polman

29. “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” ~ Warren Bennis.


30. “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” ~ John Maxwell

31. “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” ~ Kenneth Blanchard

32. “Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” ~ Brian Tracy.

Inspiring Quotes on Leadership

33. “What you do has far greater impact than what you say.” ~ Stephen R. Covey

34. “When you were made a leader you weren’t given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.” ~ Jack Welch

35. “The true value of a leader is not measured by the work they do. A leader’s true value is measured by the work they inspire others to do.” ~ Simon Sinek

36. “The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm.” ~ John C. Maxwell

37. “Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” ~ Brian Tracy

38. “The greatest gift of leadership is a boss who wants you to be successful.” ~ Jon Taffer

39. “Time is neutral and does not change things. With courage and initiative, leaders change things.” ~ Jesse Jackson

40. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” ~ Steve Jobs

41. “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

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

43. “Bosses push, Leaders pull. Real leadership is servant leadership.” ~ Dave Ramsey

44. “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” ~ John C. Maxwell

45. “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” ~ Ralph Nader

46. “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 C. Maxwell.

Powerful Quotes on Leadership

47. “One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” ~ Arnold H. Glasow

48. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

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

50. “Don’t speak unless you can improve on the silence.” ~ Spanish proverb

51. “I cannot give you a formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: try to please everybody.” ~ Herbert Bayard Swope

52. “Leadership is influence.” ~ John C. Maxwell

53. “Earn your leadership every day.” ~ Michael Jordan


54. “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” ~ Steve Jobs

55. “When we do more than we are paid to do, eventually we will be paid more for what we do.” ~ Zig Ziglar

56. “Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.” ~ Orrin Woodward

57. “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” ~ Publilius Syrus

58. “Great leaders hire outstanding people, train them well, inspire them, and then get out of their way.” ~ Frank Sonnenberg

59. “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” ~ Ray Kroc

60. “When a manager openly expresses his faith in an employee’s skill, he doesn’t just improve mood and motivation; he actually improves their likelihood of succeeding.” ~ Shawn Achor

61. “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

62. “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” ~ Peter F. Drucker

63. “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.” ~ Steve Jobs.

Inspirational Quotes on Leadership

64. “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers who can cut through the argument debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” ~ Colin Powell

65. “The more intentional you are about your leadership growth, the greater your potential for becoming the leader you’re capable of being. Never stop learning.” ~ John C. Maxwell

66. “An example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

67. “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” ~ George S. Patton Jr.

68. “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 De Pree

69. “Don’t blow off another’s candle for it won’t make yours shine brighter.” ~ Jaachynma N.E. Agu

70. “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” ~ Vince Lombardi

71. “Great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather by the presence of clear strengths.” ~ John Peter Zenger

72. “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” ~ Edward Everett Hale

73. “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” ~ John C. Maxwell

74. “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” ~ Plutarch

75. “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

76. “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” ~ Peter F. Drucker

77. “Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead.” ~ H. Ross Perot

78. “While a good leader sustains momentum, a great leader increases it.” ~ John C. Maxwell

79. “He who has learned how to obey will know how to command.” ~ Solon

80. “The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist.” ~ Eric Hoffer

81. “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

82. “Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.” ~ George S. Patton Jr.

83. “A cowardly leader is the most dangerous of men.” ~ Stephen King.

Strong Quotes on Leadership

84. “A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

85. “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” ~ John C. Maxwell

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

87. “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

88. “To command is to serve, nothing more and nothing less.” ~ André Malraux

89. “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 F. Drucker

90. “Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.” ~ Peter F. Drucker

91. “A ruler should be slow to punish and swift to reward.” ~ Ovid

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

93. “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

94. “When you put together deep knowledge about a subject that intensely matters to you, charisma happens. You gain courage to share your passion, and when you do that, folks follow.” ~ Jerry I. Porras

95. “The best leaders are the ones who show their true colors not during the banner years but during times of struggle.” ~ Shawn Achor

96. “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” ~ Steve Jobs

97. “The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” ~ Theodore Hesburgh

98. “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 G. Bennis

99. “Most people can bear adversity. But if you wish to know what a man really is, give him power.” ~ Robert G. Ingersoll

100. “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.” ~ Bernard Law Montgomery

101. “Affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.” ~ Jim Rohn

102. “A leader should be visionary and have more foresight than an employee.” ~ Jack Ma

102. “A good general not only sees the way to victory; he also knows when victory is impossible.” ~ Polybius

103. “If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.” ~ Maya Angelou

104. “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” ~ Harry S. Truman

105. “Great leaders do not desire to lead but to serve.” ~ Myles Munroe

106. “If you want to be a leader who attracts quality people, the key is to become a person of quality yourself.” ~ Jim Rohn

107. “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” ~ Winston Churchill

108. “A person who is happy is not because everything is right in his life, He is happy because his attitude towards everything in his life is right.” ~ Sundar Pichai.

Motivational Quotes on Leadership

109. “Integrity, insight, and inclusiveness are the three essential qualities of leadership.” ~ Sadhguru

110. “Leadership is not a popularity contest; it’s about leaving your ego at the door. The name of the game is to lead without a title.” ~ Robin S. Sharma

111. “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

112. “Leadership is a choice, not a position.” ~ Stephen Covey

113. “If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself, and the organization gets pulled up with you.” ~ Indra Nooyi

114. “For the success of any mission, it is necessary to have creative leadership. Creative leadership is vital for government, non-governmental organizations as well as industries.” ~ A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

115. “Leadership is an opportunity to serve. It is not a trumpet call to self-importance.” ~ J. Donald Walters

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

117. “Great leaders can see the greatness in others when they can’t see it themselves and lead them to their highest potential they don’t even know.” ~ Roy T. Bennett

118. “Leadership is the ability to guide others without force into a direction or decision that leaves them still feeling empowered and accomplished.” ~ Lisa Cash Hanson

119. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

120. “You need a commitment that is long-term and a commitment to leadership because that’s the only way you build excellence.” ~ Azim Premji

121. “Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

122. “Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could.” ~ Steve Jobs

123. “Being a good listener is absolutely critical to being a good leader; you have to listen to the people who are on the front line.” ~ Richard Branson

124. “The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.” ~ Tony Blair

125. “Great leaders have three things; inner light, inner vision, and inner strength.” ~ Amit Ray

126. “Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.” ~ Seth Godin

127. “The first job of leadership is to love people. Leadership without love is manipulation.” ~ Rick Warren

128. “Good leaders build products. Great leaders build cultures. Good leaders deliver results. Great leaders develop people. Good leaders have a vision. Great leaders have values. Good leaders are role models at work. Great leaders are role models in life.” ~ Adam Grant

129. “Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but leave him when he is wrong.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

130. “Leadership is an action, not a position” ~ Donald McGannon

131. “Be the leader you wish you had.” ~ Simon Sinek

132. “Find the right people, not the best people.” ~ Jack Ma

133. “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” ~ Harry S. Truman

134. “Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” ~ John C. Maxwell

135. “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.

136. “A successful person finds the right place for himself. But a successful leader finds the right place for others.” ~ John C. Maxwell

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References and Sources:

  1. 100 Best Quotes On Leadership – Forbes
  2. Leadership Quotes – BrainyQuote
  3. 114 Inspiring Leadership Quotes to Fuel Your Success

What is Leadership?

Leadership encompasses the ability to set ambitious objectives, make prompt, decisive actions, outperform competitors and motivate others to reach their fullest potential.

Effective leaders are often pivotal in ascending to high-ranking executive positions within a company, such as CEO or president.

Leadership involves not only tactical decision-making but also setting the cultural tone and values of the organization, creating a holistic approach to management.

Characteristics of Successful Leaders

Successful leaders possess a blend of inborn traits such as extraversion and empathy and acquired skills through education and experience.

Research suggests leadership capabilities are partly innate but significantly enhanced by factors like training and self-development.

Leaders excel in fostering a positive work environment and are adept at motivating their team through appreciation and recognition, which in turn boosts productivity and morale.

Leadership Development

The journey to becoming a better leader often involves learning from past leadership failures, which include ethical lapses or practical misjudgments.

Building a culture of transparency and encouraging open dialogue within the organization can mitigate such risks.

Leaders benefit from actively seeking and considering feedback, which helps in maintaining a healthy, error-minimizing work environment and retaining staff.

Leadership in Practice

Jack Welch, a notable CEO of General Electric, exemplified leadership by leading the company through significant growth and insisting on continuous adaptation and improvement from his team.

Effective leaders like Jack Welch not only envision and drive the company towards future achievements but also engage actively with their teams, fostering an environment where innovation and quality are paramount.

Leaders also need to demonstrate integrity, trustworthiness, and a deep concern for the well-being of their employees and the overall success of the organization.

Top Questions about Leadership

Q: What is leadership?

A: Leadership is defined as the act of guiding a group of people or an organization. It involves taking risks and challenging the usual ways of doing things, with the aim of inspiring others to pursue new and improved objectives.

Q: What are the five qualities of a good leader?

A: Good leaders are known for their decisiveness, trustworthiness, empowerment of others, clear communication, and resilience. These qualities help them effectively guide and support their teams, especially under pressure.

Q: Can you explain leadership and its types?

A: Leadership style refers to how a leader directs, implements plans, and motivates people. Psychologist Kurt Lewin identified three main types of leadership in 1939:
1. Authoritarian (or Autocratic), which involves strict control.
2. Participative (or Democratic), which encourages input from team members.
3. Delegative (or Laissez-Faire), which offers significant autonomy to team members.

Q: Which leadership style is considered the best?

A: The democratic leadership style is often viewed as the most effective. This approach fosters participation from all team members, encouraging them to share ideas and feedback.

This inclusion boosts engagement and ensures that leaders are responsive to their team’s insights.

Q: What are the two types of leadership?

A: The two main types of leadership are instrumental and expressive. Instrumental leadership focuses on achieving specific goals and maintaining productivity, making it effective in management roles. Expressive leadership, on the other hand, centers on maintaining group harmony and morale.

Q: What defines a visionary leader?

A: A visionary leader is someone who establishes a long-term goal, devises strategic plans to reach this goal and motivates others to work together towards this shared vision. They are known for their ability to see the bigger picture and rally people around that vision.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar