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75 Inspiring Motivational Quotes on Leadership

Sometimes all the inspiration you need to guide your team successfully can be found in a few simple words of wisdom.
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Leadership is lonely. No matter how big your team, sometimes it's just you--which means you sometimes need to look inside yourself for motivation and inspiration.

Or you can find personal inspiration from someone who has been there, done that...and done it well.

Here are some of my favorite leadership quotes. Tweet them, share them, but most important, use them to help you become an even better leader than you already are.

  1. "To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart." Eleanor Roosevelt
  2. "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." William Arthur Ward
  3. "It's hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse." Adlai E. Stevenson II
  4. "Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be." Ralph Waldo Emerson
  5. "Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others." Robert Louis Stevenson
  6. "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
  7. "Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men--the other 999 follow women." Groucho Marx
  8. "Don't waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when you're the boss. Or they won't. Who cares? Do your thing, and don't care if they like it." Tina Fey
  9. "Power isn't control at all--power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn't someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others that they may have the strength to stand on their own." Beth Revis
  10. "Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results." George S. Patton Jr.
  11. "I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men." Lao Tzu
  12. "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it." Dwight D. Eisenhower
  13. "Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan. John F. Kennedy
  14. "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." Peter F. Drucker
  15. "You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand." Woodrow Wilson
  16. "Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing." Albert Schweitzer
  17. "Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them." John C. Maxwell
  18. "The mark of a great man is one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones." Brandon Sanderson
  19. "Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another." John C. Maxwell
  20. "You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you're not passionate enough from the start, you'll never stick it out." Steve Jobs
  21. "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
  22. "Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off." Colin Powell
  23. "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." Margaret Thatcher
  24. "A leader is a dealer in hope." Napoleon
  25. "The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it." Theodore Roosevelt
  26. "I don't see myself being special; I just see myself having more responsibilities than the next man. People look to me to do things for them, to have answers." Tupac Shakur
  27. "If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. But do not care to convince him. Men will believe what they see. Let them see." Henry David Thoreau
  28. "I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself." Robert E. Lee
  29. "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
  30. "Consensus: The process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values, and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner: 'I stand for consensus?' " Margaret Thatcher
  31. "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
  32. "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
  33. "You get in life what you have the courage to ask for." Nancy D. Solomon
  34. "In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are." Max De Pree
  35. "We're here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark." Whoopi Goldberg
  36. "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
  37. "Always remember, Son, the best boss is the one who bosses the least. Whether it's cattle, or horses, or men; the least government is the best government."Ralph Moody
  38. "If you really want the key to success, start by doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing." Brad Szollose
  39. "Give as few orders as possible," his father had told him once long ago. "Once you've given orders on a subject, you must always give orders on that subject." Frank Herbert (from Dune)
  40. "The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes." Tony Blair
  41. "Wisdom equals knowledge plus courage. You have to not only know what to do and when to do it, but you have to also be brave enough to follow through." Jarod Kintz
  42. "In a battle between two ideas, the best one doesn't necessarily win. No, the idea that wins is the one with the most fearless heretic behind it." Seth Godin
  43. "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-Exupery
  44. "Remember teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability." Patrick Lencioni
  45. "No guts, no story." Chris Brady
  46. "Leadership is an action, not a position." Donald McGannon
  47. "Surround yourself with great people; delegate authority; get out of the way" Ronald Reagan
  48. "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
  49. "Show me the man you honor and I will know what kind of man you are." Thomas John Carlisle
  50. "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
  51. "A man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason and the real reason." J.P. Morgan
  52. "If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything." Tom Rath
  53. "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
  54. "Don't blow off another's candle for it won't make yours shine brighter." Jaachynma N.E. Agu
  55. "Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision." Peter F. Drucker
  56. "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 Porras
  57. "A good leader leads the people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them." M.D. Arnold
  58. "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.
  59. "The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet." Father Theodore M. Hesburgh
  60. "It is absolutely necessary...for me to have persons that can think for me, as well as execute orders." George Washington
  61. "When eagles are silent, parrots begin to chatter." Winston Churchill
  62. "A leader takes people where they would never go on their own." Hans Finzel
  63. "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
  64. "A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd." Max Lucado
  65. Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position. Brian Tracy
  66. I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. Ralph Nader
  67. Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. Publilius Syrus
  68. A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
  69. "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
  70. People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. John Maxwell
  71. To have long-term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way. Pat Riley
  72. 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 Maxwell
  73. A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. George Patton
  74. Earn your leadership every day. Michael Jordan
  75. Success at the highest level comes down to one question: "Can you make the choice that your happiness can come from someone else's success?" No one has qualities like courage, vision, charisma, adaptability, and decisiveness in equal measure. But every great leader does make the same decision--and so can you. Jeff Haden (sorry, couldn't resist)

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IMAGE: Gallery Stock
Last updated: Aug 4, 2014

JEFF HADEN | Columnist

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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