30 Short Quotes About Leadership

Editorial Team

Leadership Quotes

Leadership is present in all spheres of our lives. Several things have been said about it over time, which is evident from the number of quotes available in different books and the internet. We have put together 30 of these quotes to help you learn a thing or two about leadership.

1.    “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” – Kenneth H. Blanchard

Leaders need to influence others through their actions and not rely on their authority to get things done. This is one of the most significant differences between a leader and a boss.

2.    “Leadership is an action, not a position.” – Donald McGannon

Leaders should be ready to put in the work and not rely on others to drive change.

3.     “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

We should always be ready to make the right choices when faced with different challenges. It is our decisions that matter in the end and not words.

4.     “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.

Leaders are measured by how they behave and respond during challenging moments and not when everything is sailing smoothly. A leader should always be prepared for the worst.

5.    “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about others.” – Jack Welch

A leader should not be selfish. He/ she should be ready to uplift others and ensure that they succeed. A leader should take pride in the successes of his/ her employee.

6.    Anyone anywhere can make a positive difference.” – Mark Sanborn

We do not need to occupy prominent positions to drive change. It is within us and therefore starts from us. We can inspire change even at the lowest of ranks.

7.     “The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.” – Seth Godin

A leader needs to be future-oriented and believe in him/herself. Only by doing this will people believe in him/ her. 

8.    “Efficiency is doing the thing right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.” – Peter F. Drucker

Leaders should always strive to inspire their subordinates to do things right for long-term purposes. Efficiency only serves the short term, but effectiveness takes care of the long term.

9.    . “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do, and let them surprise you with their results.” – George Patton

Leaders should give people space to act and produce results.

10.  . “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward

The best type of leadership happens when the person in power becomes an inspiration to the subordinates rather than an administrator.

11.   “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” – Colin Powell

Leaders should ensure that they are constantly seen as solution-givers and change drivers.

12.   “Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.” – Tom Peters

Leaders need to immerse themselves more in their roles, and instead of just giving instructions, go ahead and demonstrate.

13.   “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

A leader should be an inspiration to the subordinates or those watching from afar.

14.   “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

A leader should not take all the credits for given successes. He/ she should understand that success requires more than one party.

15.   “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

Even though a leader should be empathetic and kind, he/ she should be firm and strict. However, this does not mean outright bullying. A leader must be tough to drive change and push the subordinates to achieve great success. 

16.   “Leadership is a series of behaviors rather than a role for heroes.” – Margaret Wheatley

Leadership is not a one-time thing. It is measured by consistent behaviors coupled with series of making the right decisions. It is not about show-off but requires great hard work.

17.   “Keep your fears to yourself, but share your inspiration with others.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Everyone expects a leader always to have the solution to the problems they face. A leader should not, therefore, publicly show panic.

18.   “You don’t need a title to be a leader.” – Mark Sanborn

We are all born leaders. One can see this from the smallest of things.

19.   “Failing organizations are usually over-managed and under-led.” – Stephen Covey

For optimum success in any organization, a leader should focus more on leadership and less on management. He/ she needs to inspire others rather than rule them.

20.  “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

A leader should come up with unique ideas that will change the workplace or the world. He/ she should not rely on others to come up with innovative ideas.

21.   “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.” – Martin Luther King

A leader should not dedicate much time to winning people’s likes for his/ her ideas, but rather focus on influencing them to the line of thinking. By the time a thought comes up, the leader should have the support of the subordinates.

22.   “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

A good leader should be an inspiration to the subordinates rather than a ruler. He/ she should make them choose the right thing rather than going all out to make sure that the right thing is done.

23.   “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” – Jack Welch

A leader should be present in all the stages of a given journey. He/ she should be there from the start all through to the end. Leaders should not kick-off projects and leave others to drive them but should be the ones to move the entire process.

24.  “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy

A leader should always be willing to learn. He/ she should be ready to pick new habits, improve on the existing ones and invest in new methods. Leadership is not a one-time thing as it involves different stages.

25.   “A leader is a dealer in hope.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Everyone looks up to leaders to come up with solutions to different problems. A leader should, therefore, give hope to the subordinates. He is not allowed to publicly show his/ her fears even when facing challenging situations.

26.   “If you can’t swallow your pride, you can’t lead. Even the highest mountain had animals that step on it.” – Jack Weatherford

A leader must be humble. He/ she should be willing to learn and accept defeat. There is no harm in consulting with others and getting different opinions when faced with a problem.

27.   “Real leadership is leaders recognizing that they serve the people that they lead.” – Pete Hoekstra

Leaders need to fight for the welfare of those they lead always. They should not be too consumed in their positions until they forget the people they lead.

28.   “I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” – Ralph Nader

While at the top, a leader should also strive to mentor future leaders. It does not stop at winning the trust of the followers. A leader should train people who can replace him/ her when the time comes.

29.  “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”. —John Maxwell

A leader’s role does not just stop at coming up with solutions. He/ she should drive the whole process and even demonstrate it to the subordinates. Leadership is about showing others what needs to be done, not sitting pretty.

30.  “A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” – Max Lucado, Christian author and preacher

Leaders need to ignore all the negative things that people say about them when doing the right thing.  A leader does not have to be a populist to succeed.


These are some of the best leadership quotes from renowned world leaders and authors. I hope that they will inspire you to be the best leader.