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What makes a good leader? These leadership quotes will tell you!
Lloyd J. Edwards Jr. famously said “you can’t teach leadership, but it can be learned.”
A retired police lieutenant from California, Edwards says confidence, integrity, determination, and a commitment to excellence, are traits common among leaders in any field.
All of these attributes, in the perfect combination, create leaders who inspire those around them to think, do, and be better.
Whether you are currently a leader, or aspire to be one someday, it is important to remember that good leadership requires skills that must be constantly honed and refined.
Being a leader is about more than just having a certain job title. It’s all about having the direction, perseverance, and ability to motivate other people to achieve a common goal.
We hope these amazing leadership quotes inspire you to keep learning and reaching for new heights.
“Every time you have to speak, you are auditioning for leadership.”
“To add value to others, one must first value others.”
“Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.”
“When people talk, listen completely.”
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
“The important thing is this: to be able to give up in any given moment all that we are for what we can become.”
“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.”
“A good leader leads the people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them.”
“One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.”
“The highest of distinctions is service to others.”
“The things we fear most in organizations–fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances–are the primary sources of creativity.”
“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.”
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”
“A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.”
“You manage things; you lead people.”
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”
“A leader. . .is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.”
“A leader is a dealer in hope.”
“There is a troublesome humor some men have, that if they may not lead, they will not follow; but had rather a thing were never done, than not done their own way, tho’ other ways very desirable.”
“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.”
“Do you know that one of the great problems of our age is that we are governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas?”
“If you’re not sure where you are going, you’re liable to end up someplace else.”
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
“Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily, even if you had no title or position.”
“Doing what is right isn’t the problem. It is knowing what is right.”
“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
“You take people as far as they will go, not as far as you would like them to go.”
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
“The role of leadership is to transform the complex situation into small pieces and prioritize them.”
“I think one of the keys to leadership is recognizing that everybody has gifts and talents. A good leader will learn how to harness those gifts toward the same goal.”
“There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.”
“Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.”
“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
“Wise leaders generally have wise counselors because it takes a wise person themselves to distinguish them.”
“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.”
“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”
“There exist limitless opportunities in every industry. Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.”
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
“Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.”
“A leader is a person you will follow to a place you would not go by yourself.”
“What you do has far greater impact than what you say.”
“The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.”
“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”
“You don’t have to hold a position in order to be a leader.”
“Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.”
“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.”
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.”
“Outstanding leaders go out of the way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
“A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.”
“One of the most important things for any leader is to never let anyone else define who you are. And you define who you are. I never think of myself as being a woman CEO of this company. I think of myself as a steward of a great institution.”
“To have long term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way.”
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.”
“I learned that things are never as complicated as we imagine them to be. It is only our arrogance which seeks to find complicated answers to simple problems.”
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”
“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.”
“Knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
“If you don’t believe in yourself, why is anyone else going to believe in you.”
“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”
“There are no office hours for leaders.”
“I can give you a six-word formula for success: Think things through–then follow through.”
“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.”
“If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”
“Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.”
“Leadership cannot really be taught. It can only be learned.”
“Ninety percent of leadership is the ability to communicate something people want.”
“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.”
“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”
“A leader is not an administrator who loves to run others, but someone who carries water for his people so that they can get on with their jobs.”
“Look over your shoulder now and then to be sure someone’s following you.”
“I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody.”
“The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.”
“The supreme quality of leadership is integrity.”
8 Qualities that make Great Leaders
The leadership quotes we’ve collected show that great leaders all share special qualities that set them apart. While they may appear in different proportions, they create a synergy that people see as true leadership.
- Confidence. If you want others to believe you and follow your lead, you’ve got to be sure about your decisions and act with assertiveness.
- Integrity and Honesty. Being honest about your goals and vision from the outset will inspire others to follow you. It’s also vital that you can stick to your values and core beliefs, however successful you become.
- Innovation. Creative impulses and the ability to have ideas that are out of the box – and to follow through with them – is what distinguishes the good from the great.
- Communication. Having a vision is one thing, but communicating it to others is something else! Keeping the lines of communication open and honest is vital in earning the respect of your team and motivating them to meet your goals.
- Decisiveness. Decision-making is what sets the leader apart, and can shape the future of a company. Making good decisions without rushing, and acting in a decisive way inspires the confidence of your team.
- Delegation. No one person can do everything, and a good leader can recognize that. As well as freeing you up to focus on key responsibilities and decisions, delegation also empowers other team members and makes them feel valued.
- Accountability. Everyone wants to take the credit when something goes right, but a good leader also takes on his fair share of blame when things go wrong. Working together as a team makes everyone responsible for the future success of the company, and makes for a better working environment.
- Passion and Commitment. If you’re going, go all the way. Great leaders are never afraid of getting their hands dirty and showing how much they care about success, the future, and team morale.
We hope these leadership quotes have inspired you to inspire others. If your favorite is missing, share it with us in the comments!