30 Most Inspiring Leadership Quotes

It can be lonely at the top, and being in a leadership position will remind you very quickly of that old adage. By nature of the role, leaders are often all on their own. Whether it’s a high-stress job as CEO of an international firm, or a smaller position as the manager of a small local business, a leader is saddled with accountability and responsibility that must be managed alone.

We often reach within ourselves to find strength or inspiration, but there are times when that inner solace can fall short. That’s when we can find value in looking outside of ourselves, to other leaders and inspirational figures across culture and throughout history.

Whether you’re a business owner, teacher, chairperson, entrepreneur, or just looking to inspire those you lead, here are thirty powerful quotes to keep in mind:

1. “Control your own destiny or someone else will.” — Jack Welch

2. “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” — Farrah Gray

3. “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent Van Gogh

4. “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

5. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain

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

7. “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” — Jimmy Dean

8. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” — Amelia Earhart

9. “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” — Albert Einstein

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

11. “Nothing will work unless you do.” — Maya Angelou

12. “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.”  —  Nelson Mandela

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

14. “A leader is a dealer in hope.” — Napoleon

15. “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

16. “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

17. “A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others so that they may have the strength to stand on their own.” — Beth Revis

18. “Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50 percent of your time in leading yourself–your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20 percent in leading those with authority over you and 15 percent leading your peers.” — Dee Hock

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

20. “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

21. “Forget about the fast lane. If you really want to fly, just harness your power to your passion.” — Oprah Winfrey

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

23. “Remember, teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” — Patrick Lencioni

24. “Leadership is an action, not a position.” — Donald McGannon

25. “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” — Jim Rohn

26. “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

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

28. “A leader takes people where they would never go on their own.” — Hans Finzel

29. “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” — Publilius Syrus

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

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