117 Leadership Quotes for Inspiration
Becoming a great leader is more about the inner qualities you possess than the title you are given. While a person may be in charge of managing people or heading a project, a genuine leader is one who can inspire others to accomplish something important.
Being a good leader is something you learn and perfect with diligence, compassion, persistence, and experience.
True leadership is about striving to become better in all areas of life and empowering everyone around you to become the best versions of themselves.
Regardless of where you are in your journey of being a leader —- whether you have the desire to inspire or want to hone the leadership skills you already have, learning from others through inspiring leadership quotes can help you reach your goals.
Table of Contents
Qualities of Great Leaders
The best leaders possess the qualities of humility, honesty, and cooperation. They are able to communicate clearly to help others take action.
Great leaders not only inspire and motivate others, but also teach people the skills they need to achieve the goals of a team, company, organization, or project. They help others bring out their best talents and abilities.
As a leader, you need to have vision, courage, integrity, and empathy. You also need to take action and inspire others to do the same, as well as delegate responsibilities so others can learn and grow.
Anyone can become a great leader, it is not something you have to be born with. Uncover your leadership potential with inspiration from these quotes from other leaders as you discover more about the qualities of the great leader inside you.
Remember, you have within you, right now, everything you need to be what you desire to be.
Great Leaders Inspire
As a leader, your ability to inspire people will help motivate them to reach goals in the workplace as well as their individual career goals and personal goals. Many great leaders inspire others by leading by example. Giving encouragement and praise inspires those you lead to persevere through challenges, create loyalty to the team or organization, and strive to produce their best work.
- “Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” Brian Tracy
- “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams
- “Leadership is not so much about technique and methods as it is about opening the heart. Leadership is about inspiration — of oneself and of others. Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes. Leadership is not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine.” Lance Secretan
- “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
- “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” General Dwight Eisenhower
- “Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be led.” Ross Perot
- “Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” John C. Maxwell
- “Earn your leadership every day.” Michael Jordan
- “Good leaders organize and align people around what the team needs to do. Great leaders motivate and inspire people with why they’re doing it.” Marillyn Hewson
- “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another.” John C. Maxwell
- “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
- “A good leader leads the people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them.” M.D. Arnold
Great Leaders Teach
To be a good leader, help people acquire the skills they need to accomplish what you are asking of them. Give your staff or team members opportunities to take courses, attend seminars, and earn certifications that will help them become more qualified in their position or profession. Organize senior or more experienced staff to mentor others, allowing one to develop leadership skills and the other to gain valuable knowledge. Giving others the tools they need to succeed will not only empower them to flourish but the team or company will prosper as well.
- “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.” Jim Rohn
- “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward.
- “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” John F. Kennedy
- “I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” Ralph Nader
- “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” Peter Drucker
- “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin
- “If someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn’t need motivation to speed him up. What he needs is education to turn him around.” Jim Rohn
- “Learning is not a one-time event or a periodic luxury. Great leaders in great companies recognize that the ability to constantly learn, innovate, and improve is vital to their success.” Amy Edmondson
- “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” Albert Schweitzer
- “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” George Patton
- “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” John C. Maxwell
- “Dealing with complexity is an inefficient and unnecessary waste of time, attention, and mental energy. There is never any justification for things being complex when they could be simple.” Edward de Bono
Great Leaders Raise the Bar
When we are satisfied with our past accomplishments, we cease to grow. Encourage those you lead to progress by setting high yet reasonable expectations. Give others challenges that will put them out of their comfort zone and reach for the next level of success. Great leaders celebrate and reward the achievements of those they lead while also encouraging them to continue to reach higher.
- “Leadership is the ability to get extraordinary achievement from ordinary people.” Brian Tracy
- “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.” John Maxwell
- “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
- “Leadership is not something that is done to people, like fixing your teeth. Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” Bill Bradley
- “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
32.”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 Drucker
- “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
- “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” Bill Gates
- “A star wants to see himself rise to the top. A leader wants to see those around him rise to the top.” Simon Sinek
- “If you always put a limit on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” Bruce Lee
- “As a leader, you should always start with where people are before you try to take them where you want them to go.” Jim Rohn
- “Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” Bill Bradley
- “Leaders set high standards. refuse to tolerate mediocrity or poor performance.” Brian Tracy
Great Leaders Are Courageous
If you want to get different results from what you are getting now, you must change something. Change requires taking risks by stepping out into the unknown. And that requires courage. The best leaders take risks and develop the courage to do so. Once you develop that habit of courageously trying the unknown, you will most often find the experience is not as bad as you feared it would be and the results are worth the effort.
- “Entrepreneurial leadership requires the ability to move quickly when opportunity presents itself.” Brian Tracy
41.”Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” Harry S. Truman
- “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
- “The true mark of a leader is the willingness to stick with a bold course of action — an unconventional business strategy, a unique product-development roadmap, a controversial marketing campaign — even as the rest of the world wonders why you’re not marching in step with the status quo. In other words, real leaders are happy to zig while others zag. They understand that in an era of hyper-competition and non-stop disruption, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand for something special.” Bill Taylor
- “Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” W. Clement Stone
- “Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” Mary Tyler Moore
- “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela
- “Don’t be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard.” General Colin Powell
- “Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles; Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it. Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
- “Conscience is the root of all true courage; if a man would be brave let him obey his conscience.” James Freeman Clark
- “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” William Falkner
- “Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.” Eleanor Roosevelt
- “The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. Facing the truth really will set you free.” Oprah Winfrey
Great Leaders Have Integrity
A person with integrity is honest, responsible, loyal, inclusive, kind, hard-working, and respectful. People will follow you when you consistently exhibit these qualities, regardless of your official job title. When you have integrity, you admit when you make mistakes and use the experiences to learn and grow. Others will respect you for your honesty and learn from your example.
Great leaders are concerned citizens who desire to create change for the common good. Integrity in the workplace is essential to effective teamwork, advancement in your career, and truly leading yourself and others to greatness.
- “Integrity is the most valuable and respected quality of leadership. Always keep your word.” Brian Tracy
- “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
- “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. Oprah Winfrey
- “Respect is the key determinant of high-performance leadership. how much people respect you determines how well they perform.” Brian Tracy
- “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln
- “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” Bob Marley
- “Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
- “Superior leaders are willing to admit a mistake and cut their losses. Be willing to admit that you’ve changed your mind. Don’t persist when the original decision turns out to be a poor one.” Brian Tracy
- “The glue that holds all relationships together–including the relationship between the leader and the led–is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” Brian Tracy
- “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.” Harvey Mackay
- “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” Warren Buffet
- “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.
- “The true test of leadership is how well you function in a crisis.” Brian Tracy
Great Leaders Have Vision
Good leaders focus on the possibilities of the future instead of the problems of the past. As a leader, have a vision for what you want to achieve, and create goals as your stepping stones to get there. Great leaders also keep an eye on trends and make educated predictions of future opportunities that will put them ahead of the competition.
- “The key responsibility of leadership is to think about the future. No one else can do it for you.” Brian Tracy
- “The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” Reverend Theodore Hesburgh
- “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Warren Bennis
- “The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good.” Brian Tracy
- “One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” Arnold Glasow
- “Successful leaders see the opportunities in every difficulty rather than the difficulty in every opportunity.” Reed Markham
- “Leadership is the capacity to transform vision into reality.” Warren G. Bennis
- “A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.” Brian Tracy
- “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” Bill George
- “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “People who take a long view of their lives and careers always seem to make much better decisions about their time and activities than people who give very little thought to the future.” Brian Tracy
- “No one is going to make you a leader. Take the reins, create your own opportunity, and build the career that you deserve.” Devin Bramhall
- “Leaders never use the word failure. They look upon setbacks as learning experiences.” Brian Tracy
Great Leaders Delegate
Whether you are a business owner, an executive for a company, or hold a leadership position at your job, the most efficient and effective way to achieve great things is to delegate. Delegating tasks and authority to others helps them grow professionally. It also gives you more time and energy to devote to the things that will advance your professional and personal goals while helping others do the same.
- “When you delegate tasks, you create followers. When you delegate authority, you create leaders.” Craig Groeschel
- “Wise leaders generally have wise counselors because it takes a wise person themselves to distinguish them.” Diogenes of Sinope
- “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” Tom Peters
- “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Jack Welch
- “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” Jessica Jackley
- “When you delegate work to a member of the team, your job is to clearly frame success and describe the objectives.” Steven Sinofsky
- “Don’t be a bottleneck. If a matter is not a decision for the President or you, delegate it. Force responsibility down and out. Find problem areas, add structure and delegate. The pressure is to do the reverse. Resist it.” Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense
- “The really expert riders of horses let the horse know immediately who is in control, but then guide the horse with loose reins and seldom use the spurs.” Sandra Day O’Connor
- “If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.” John C. Maxwell
- “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.” Ronald Reagan
- “No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.” Andrew Carnegie
- “Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it … Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine.” David Ogilvy
- “If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate.” Richard Branson
Great Leaders Mobilize
Good leaders make things happen — both by taking action themselves and by motivating others to take action. The greatest leaders mobilize others to do the small and simple things that will accumulate to create great things. Having a good idea is the beginning of progress, but only by taking the necessary steps to make it happen will you and those you lead achieve success. Success comes from doing.
- “Leaders are innovative, entrepreneurial, and future-oriented. They focus on getting the job done.” Brian Tracy
- “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” John Maxwell
- “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
- “It only takes one person to mobilize a community and inspire change. Even if you don’t feel like you have it in you, it’s in you. You have to believe in yourself. People will see your vision and passion and follow you.” Teyonah Parris
- “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” Carl Jung
- “Always choose the future over the past. What do we do now?” Brain Tracy
- “Do not wait; the time will never be “just right.” Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” Napoleon Hill
- “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.” Stephen Covey
- “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.” Vince Lombardi
- “The key to success is action.” Brian Tracy
- “What you do has far greater impact than what you say.” Stephen Covey
- “The greatest leaders mobilize others by coalescing people around a shared vision.” Ken Blanchard
- “Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” Brian Tracy
Great Leaders Have Empathy
In order for people to truly follow you, especially in times of adversity and uncertainty, they must know you care. We all need to feel valued, understood, and cared for. As a leader, one of your greatest qualities will be the authentic concern you have for the lives of those who work for you. Take time to get to know them, what is important to them, what their needs are, and what their concerns are. You will find productivity will increase, and integrity and loyalty will prosper.
- “The best leaders have a high consideration factor. They really care about their people” Brian Tracy
- “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
- “If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings — and put compensation as a carrier behind it — you almost don’t have to manage them.” Jack Welch
- “The three ‘C’s’ of leadership are consideration, caring, and courtesy. Be polite to everyone.” Brian Tracy
- “Real leadership is leaders recognizing that they serve the people that they lead.” Pete Hoekstra
- “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
- “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia
- “The outward expression of empathy is courtesy.” Stewart Butterfield
- “The effective leader recognizes that they are more dependent on their people than they are on them. Walk softly.” Brian Tracy
- “Stay connected to feel empathy, compassion, and understanding for yourself and others.” Vanessa Tucker
- “Measure your impact in humanity, not in the likes, but the lives you touch; not in popularity, but in the people you serve. I found that my life got bigger when I stopped caring about what other people thought about me. You will find yours will too. Stay focused on what really matters. There will be times when your resolve to serve humanity will be tested. Be prepared. People will try to convince you that you should keep your empathy out of your career. Don’t accept this false premise.” Tim Cook
- “Emotional intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. It shapes our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions. Research suggests it is responsible for as much as 80 percent of the “success” in our lives.” Joshua Freedman
- “Practice Golden Rule Management in everything you do. Manage others the way you would like to be managed.” Brian Tracy
Putting Leadership Quotes Into Action
Which of these leadership quotes have caused you to pause and ponder their value in your current circumstances? Write them down in a place where you can see them often and these quotes as inspiration to move forward in your journey to becoming and remaining a great leader. I also invite you to use my Personal Development Plan Template to identify the key areas of opportunity currently in front of you and create a plan of action to achieve your greatest goals.
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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.