In an era where high-profile, sexual harassment allegations continue to roll in, and Facebook's data-privacy scandal grows steadily worse, it's evident this country is faced with a crisis -- the absence of true leadership.

Whether in the halls of Congress or the halls of a small business in middle-America, identifying the right leaders -- those with character and moral excellence running through their veins -- should be a top priority to swiftly challenge the pervasive status quo.

16 Leadership Quotes to Remember for Life

Perhaps we can take small steps and start here. Allow me to inspire and provoke your thinking with sixteen quotes from top entrepreneurs and thought-leaders.

1. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple.

"It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do."

2. Chip Bergh, chief executive of Levi Strauss & Co.

"Being extremely transparent builds trust over time. I'm not a big fan of organizations where people backstab or talk behind others' backs. So when I've led teams, it's always been about how we work together to get the best results. I've got some trusted people who will tell me if [politics] is going on behind my back. If I see it, you've just got to squash it like a bug as soon as it happens and not tolerate it."

3. Sir Richard Branson, founder, Virgin Group.

"My philosophy has always been, if you can put staff first, your customer second and shareholders third, effectively, in the end, the shareholders do well, the customers do better, and yourself are happy."

4. Charles Handy in The Search for Meaning.

"The companies that survive are the ones that work out what they uniquely can give to the world--not just growth or money but their excellence, their respect for others, or their ability to make people happy."

5. James Kouzes and Barry Posner in The Leadership Challenge.

"Of all the things that sustain a leader over time, love is the most lasting. The best-kept secret of successful leaders is love: staying in love with leading, with the people who do the work, with what their organizations produce, and with those who honor the organization by using its work." 

6. William Cohen in The Stuff of Heroes: The Eight Universal Laws of Leadership.

"My research debunks the myth that many people seem to have . . . that you become a leader by fighting your way to the top. Rather, you become a leader by helping others to the top. Helping your employees is as important as, and many times more so than, trying to get the most work out of them."

7. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

"True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed... Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection."  

8. James M. Strock in Serve to Lead.

"Twenty-first-century leadership relationship dynamics are from the bottom up rather than the top down; from the outside in, rather than the inside out."

9. Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40 Company.

"Leadership is about learning and teaching. Why waste getting old if you can't get wise? We have no mistakes here, we have learning moments." 

10. Anita Roddick, the late founder of The Body Shop

"What I have learned is that people become motivated when you guide them to the source of their own power and when you make heroes out of employees who personify what you want to see in the organization." 

11. Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller.

"We now have a new way of defining our success. At Barry-Wehmiller, we measure success by the way we touch the lives of people."

12. Lisa Cash Hanson, CEO? of Snuggwugg Baby Gear

"Leadership is the ability to guide others without force into a direction or decision that leaves them still feeling empowered and accomplished." 

13. Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway.

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

14. Steve Jobs.

"Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them."

15. Kat Cole, COO and President, North America at FOCUS Brands.

"Your job as leader is to stay as close in touch as possible with those closest to the action."

16. Simon Sinek in Servant Leadership in Action.

"Creating a space in which people can feel vulnerable means a person can walk into their boss's office to admit a mistake without fear of losing their job. It means someone can raise their hand and ask for help, admit they have been given a responsibility they don't feel prepared or knowledgeable enough to complete, or admit they are scared without any fear of humiliation or retribution. This is what happens inside great organizations."