20+ Inspiring Leader Quotes


10min read


20+ Inspiring Leader Quotes

10min read


True leaders know how to influence others. They understand what it takes to maximize the talent of those around them. Everyone can always become a better leader, which is why it is helpful to study those who came before us. This article highlights our favorite inspirational leader quotes and how you can use them to improve the lives of those around you.

What Are the Best Inspiring Leadership Quotes?

Whether you are a seasoned executive or a first-time manager, below are some of the best inspirational quotes to drive success for your team. You must find your favorite sayings and integrate them into your unique leadership style.

Steve Jobs

"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 is one of the main reasons Apple became the first trillion-dollar company. The best company solve problems externally. These companies develop solutions that solve everyday problems. When a product or service addresses a common pain point, it will achieve long-term success. Without a loyal set of paying customers, a business will fail.

Jim Rohn

"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."

The top-level of leadership is when someone can build future leaders. A true leader knows that an organization’s success does not stop with them. The business needs multiple generations of leaders that will ensure sustainable success. Leadership tells people what they need to hear and not what they want to hear.

Arnold Glasow

"A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.”

The best leaders know that they do not have all the answers. They also know that success is a lifelong journey that requires help along the way. Leaders are humble enough to know they were wrong about something. They are quick to admit it and then move on toward a better solution. The same thing applies to success. When the team wins, everybody wins. Therefore, they do not need all the credit for themselves.

Bill Gates

"It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure."

The most successful people in this world failed at some point. We learn more valuable lessons when we lose something rather than when we win. Success is the result of several failures. When leaders fail, the pain motivates them never to make the same mistake again. Therefore, the lessons learned in times of failure will last forever.

Theodore Hesburgh

"The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet."

The most successful organizations are constantly working toward a worthy goal. Leaders must compare it to driving a ship. If that ship has no idea where it is going, it will ultimately sink. The best leaders will outline a vision and make it as visible as possible for their employees. When team members rally around a vision, it will motivate them through challenging, uncertain times.

Martin Luther King Jr.

"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the best thought leaders. He was in the middle of a divisive civil rights movement, in which he had to be a molder of consensus. Leaders like MLK understood that to get everyone on the same page. He had to identify a worthwhile goal. Often people have a different method of arriving at the same objective.

Sheryl Sandberg

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

Not only are the best leaders humble, but they know how to stay true to themselves. People will follow when leaders stay authentic with their personality and leadership style. Team members will always rally behind an honest, consistent leader. The best leaders understand that they reached their current position by being themselves.

Orrin Woodward

“Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.”

The best leaders are never satisfied, so they are constantly trying to be the best versions of themselves. However, these leaders know to engage the people around them. They instill a growth-minded culture where everyone pushes themselves (and others) to perform well.

Ronald Reagan

"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."

A true leader understands that it takes a cohesive group to reach success. Everyone has unique skills and talents that need to be maximized. The best leaders know how to push the right buttons and motivate people differently. A mark of effective leadership is when the person can inspire others to create meaningful change.

William Arthur Ward

"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."

This quote highlights the importance of mentoring others around you. The best leaders understand that people learn in different ways. It is one thing to explain something to someone, but it is completely different to guide someone toward successful action. Not only does a great leader properly communicate with others, but they explain the “why” behind the task or project.

Lao Tzu

"To lead people, walk beside them. As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence … When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!"

Lao Tzu understands that a true leader guides other people and inspires them. After interacting with a strong leader, people should feel fully equipped to succeed at the job. They cannot do that without a collaborative effort with the leader.

Henry Ford

"You don’t have to hold a position to be a leader."

A leadership title is just the first level of leadership. Beyond title alone, a true leader needs to earn trust from others, inspire others to take action, and build other leaders to replace them.

John C. Maxwell

"To add value to others, one must first value others."

Legitimate leaders care about the well-being of others. It takes a true leader to understand what motivates someone else to succeed. They do an excellent job of tapping into that through their mentorship. If you talk with someone about their wants and needs, anything is possible.

Maya Angelou

"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."

In most situations, people are influenced through emotions. A good leader knows the logical points of view, but they understand that everyone is motivated by something bigger than themselves. If we focus on understanding the goals of other people, we can do more than influence them. We can elevate them to a higher quality of life.

Andrew Carnegie

"No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or to get all the credit for doing it."

The best leaders understand that everyone has something to contribute. If you want a quality result, you must tap into the team member’s unique skills and talents. A true leader is also selfless and eager to give credit to other people. When team members feel valued, it will benefit the organization going forward.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Influential leaders are confident in the face of change. A company cannot grow and reach its full potential without blazing new trails and taking risks. The leader is responsible for motivating others and instilling confidence in times of uncertainty.

Winston Churchill

"Success is not final. Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

This quote underscores that success is not a destination but it is a constant journey. Leaders know that the true definition of success is the progressive realization of a worthwhile outcome. Goals and objectives will change, but it is up to the leader to motivate others throughout the process.

Bill Bradley

"Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better."

The best leaders do not view others as they are currently, but they see them to their full potential. They have a unique ability to communicate that to others, which motivates them in return.

Brian Tracey

"Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems."

The best leaders are always forward-looking. They learn from their mistakes, but they do not dwell on the past. They use it as a learning tool and fuel for a better solution. The most productive and innovative organizations are constantly looking at ways to solve problems for customers.

Nelson Mandela

"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."

True leaders know that everyone has a different learning curve and success path. They know how to interact with people of all personality types.

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

What are Some Inspirational Quotes for Leaders?

If you want more quick tips on becoming an effective leader, below are some powerful quotes to study.

  • "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt

  • "Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground." - Theodore Roosevelt

  • “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein

  • “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” - John F. Kennedy

  • "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." - John Quincy Adams

  • "A leader is a dealer in hope." - Napoleon Bonaparte

  • "Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you." - Margaret Thatcher

  • "The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes." - Tony Blair

  • “No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.” - Abraham Lincoln

  • "Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing." - Albert Schweitzer

  • "Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others." - Jack Welch

  • "Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

  • "Earn your leadership every day." - Michael Jordan

  • “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” - Colin Powell

  • "Outstanding leaders go out of the way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish." - Sam Walton

  • "The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves." - Ray Kroc

  • "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

  • "The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers." -Ralph Nader

  • "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

  • "What you do has far greater impact than what you say." -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

  • "If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are an excellent leader." - Dolly Parton

  • "To have long term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way." - Pat Riley

  • "Don’t tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results." -George Patton

  • “A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” - Max Lucado

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