The 100 Greatest Leadership Quotes of All Time


Anyone who has followed me on social media over the years knows that I am a huge fan of inspirational quotes. I use them personally and when I was a practicing leader I would often e-mail them out to my teams in the morning. Below are the most popular ones based on how often they have been Liked and Shared on social media. Enjoy!


1.     "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

2.     "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, you need a team." ~John Wooden

3.     "In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later." ~Harold Geneen

4.     "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." ~Benjamin Franklin

5.     "It's better to hang out with people better than you. Pick people whose behavior is better than yours and you'll drift in that direction." ~Unknown

6.     "A pessimist is somebody who complains about the noise when opportunity knocks." ~Oscar Wilde

7.     "Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others." ~Jack Welch

8.     "Never be afraid to try, remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic." ~Anonymous

9.     "The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities." ~ Stephen Covey

10.  "A good manager is a man who isn't worried about his own career but rather the careers of those who work for him." ~H.S.M. Burns

11.  "You don't get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour." ~J.Rohn

12.  "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

13.  "A leader is not an administrator who loves to run others, but one who carries water for his people so that they can get on with their jobs" ~Unknown

14.  "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." ~Albert Einstein

15.  "Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others." ~John Maxwell

16.  "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." ~John Quincy Adams

17.  "Instead of worrying about what people say of you, why not spend time trying to accomplish something they will admire." ~Dale Carnegie

18.  "Leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders." ~Tom Peters

19.  "You can have anything in the world you want if you'll just help enough other people get what they want." ~Zig Ziglar

20.  "Good leaders inspire people to have confidence in the leader. Great leaders inspire people to have confidence in themselves." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

21.  "Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection." ~Mark Twain

22.  "The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said." ~Peter Drucker

23.  "The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The Leader adjusts the sails." ~John C. Maxwell

24.  "Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world." ~Joel Barker

25.  "You have to put in many, many, many tiny efforts that nobody sees or appreciates before you achieve anything worthwhile." ~Brian Tracy

26.  Remember the difference between a boss and a leader; a boss says "Go!" - a leader says "Let's go!" ~E.M. Kelly

27.  "People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily." ~Zig Ziglar

28.  "Don't confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but doesn't make any progress." ~Alfred Montapert

29.  "If you listen to your fears, you will die never knowing what a great person you might have been." ~Robert H. Schuller

30.  "Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that." ~Norman Vincent Peale

31.  "Failure + failure + failure = success. You only fail when you quit." ~Jack Hyles

32.  "Lead and inspire people. Don't try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead." ~Ross Perot

33.  "Discipline is doing what you really do not want to do, so you can do what you really want to do." ~John C. Maxwell

34.  "Be clear about your goal but be flexible about the process of achieving it." ~Brian Tracy

35.  "One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested." ~E. M. Forster

36.  "A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him." ~David Brinkley

37.  "It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages." ~Henry Ford

38.  "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure." ~Colin L. Powell

39.  "Vision without execution is a daydream. Execution without vision is a nightmare." ~Japanese Proverb

40.  "Good leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion." ~Jack Welch

41.  "Hire character. Train skill." ~Peter Schutz

42.  "You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions." ~Naguib Mahfouz

43.  "The man who does things makes many mistakes, but he never makes the biggest mistake of all; doing nothing." ~Ben Franklin

44.  "Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose." ~Bill Gates

45.  "It's hard to beat a person who never gives up." ~Babe Ruth

46.  "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." ~Abraham Lincoln

47.  "If you don't have time to do it right, what makes you think you will have time to do it over?" ~Seth Godin

48.  "If everyone has to think outside the box, maybe it is the box that needs fixing." ~Malcolm Gladwell

49.  "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." ~Charles Darwin

50.  "Leadership is not just what happens when you're there, it's what happens when you're not there." ~Ken Blanchard

51.  "Management is a position that is granted; leadership is a status that is earned." ~K. Scott Derrick

52.  "Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity." ~Colin Powell

53.  "I am more afraid of an army of one hundred sheep led by a lion than an army of one hundred lions led by a sheep." ~Charles Maurice

54.  "I never look at the glass as half empty or half full. I look to see who is pouring the water and deal with them." ~Mark Cuban

55.  "To succeed in life we must stay within our strength zone but move out of our comfort zone." ~John C. Maxwell

56.  "Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." ~Albert Einstein

57.  "If Columbus had turned back, no one would have blamed him. Of course, no one would have remembered him either." ~Unknown

58.  "The harder I worked, the luckier I got." ~Thomas Jefferson

59.  "Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see." ~Arthur Schopenhauer

60.  "If you have no critics you'll likely have no success." ~Malcolm Forbes

61.  "The twin killers of success are impatience & greed." ~Jim Rohn

62.  "One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation." ~Arthur Ashe

63.  "Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves." ~Dale Carnegie

64.  "Your job gives you authority. Your behavior gives you respect." ~ Irwin Federman

65.  "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." ~Peter Drucker

66.  "Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard at it." ~Colin Powell

67.  "The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage." ~Arie du Geus

68.  "Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him." ~Aldous Huxley

69.  "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope & confidence." ~Helen Keller

70.  "Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success." ~Napoleon Hill

71.  "Two elements of successful leadership: a willingness to be wrong and an eagerness to admit it." ~Seth Godin

72.  "Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them." ~W. Clement Stone

73.  "Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers who cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand." ~Unknown

74.  "When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen." ~Ernest Hemingway

75.  "A culture of discipline is not a principle of business; it is a principle of greatness." ~Jim Collins

76.  "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." ~Albert Einstein

77.  "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant." ~Robert Louis Stevenson

78.  "Excellence is not an accomplishment. It is a spirit, a never-ending process." ~Lawrence M. Miller

79.  "Quality means doing it right when no one is looking." ~Henry Ford

80.  "I don't pay good wages because I have a lot of money; I have a lot of money because I pay good wages." ~Robert Bosch

81.  "A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it" ~Albert Einstein

82.  "Successful people make the right decisions early and manage those decisions daily." ~John C. Maxwell

83.  "Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort." ~Paul Meyer

84.  "I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself." ~ Robert E. Lee

85.  "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

86.  "In the past a leader was a boss. Today leaders must be partners with their people. They no longer can lead based on positional power." ~Ken Blanchard

87.  "Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort." ~Paul Meyer

88.  "Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards." ~Vernon Sanders Law

89.  "I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying." ~Michael Jordan

90.  "The older I get the less I listen to what people say and the more I look at what they do." ~Andrew Carnegie

91.  "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." ~Bill Gates

92.  "Your success will be the degree to which you build up others who work with you. While building up others, you build up yourself." ~James Casey

93.  "Good leaders make people feel that they're at the very heart of things, not at the periphery." ~Warren Bennis

94.  "As a leader, you're probably not doing a good job unless your employees can do a good impression of you when you're not around." ~Patrick Lencioni

95.  "Do one thing every day that scares you." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

96.  "I learned the best way to save face is to keep the bottom half of it shut." ~Unknown

97.  "When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps." ~Confucius

98.  "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" ~Leonardo da Vinci

99.  "You get the best efforts from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within." ~Bob Nelson

100.                "Successful leaders see the opportunities in every difficulty rather than the difficulty in every opportunity." ~Reed Markham

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