Learning From Leadership Quotes

One of my favorite things to do is collect quotes that ring true to me. I’ll scribble it down in a notebook, paste it into an email, or post it on my Facebook page. A couple of years ago I discovered Evernote.

Since this time, I’ve amassed an even larger amount of quotes. They’re leadership quotes, personal development quotes, relationship quotes, and more.

I believe we can learn a lot from the quotes of leaders that have come before us. These leaders are full of wisdom. It becomes our responsibility to learn from them.

That’s been a driving force behind the collection of quotes I’ve recorded. Today, I’d like to share what I’ve learned from some of the leadership quotes I’ve saved for myself.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
— Arthur Ashe, Tennis Player

This quote is great for the leader who’s hesitant to start because he’s unsure of what he has. Arthur reminds us that we need to start. There’s tools available to use all around us. Pick one up and use it.

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”
— Helen Keller

Leaders can get caught up in the great and noble task. We’ve got grand visions of what needs to be accomplished. All the while we lose sight of the small tasks. If we continue to work on the small tasks, we’ll work up to the great and noble.

“It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly.”
— Isaac Asimov, author

I’m often reminded that leaders will face difficulties. Some days they’ll seem so large that we cannot overcome them. Isaac’s quote reminds me that we need to be courageous and face the difficulties. This is the only way they’ll ever be able to defeat the challenges of life.

“It comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
— Steve Jobs, Apple Co-founder

How many times in a day to you get asked to take on a new task or go for a new project? It’s easy to get sidetracked because of the inability to say no. Steve Jobs knew the importance of focusing on the important tasks. It’s saying NO to the GOOD and YES to the BEST.

“If you don’t have a simple answer to the question, ‘What are you doing?’ You haven’t thought about it long enough.”
— Andy Stanley

Every time I hear this quote, it makes me smile. I’m a big fan of breaking down complex situations into simple explanations. While we can’t talk down to our team, we must be willing to make it simple enough that we can easily explain what we want.

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”
— Tom Peters

Wow! This one can be tough to swallow. We’ve been taught we want followers as we lead. But how many leaders want more leaders? It’s our job as a leader to raise up more leaders. We need to be multiplying our leadership.

“Don’t be so busy making a living that you become to busy to make a life.”
Dan Miller, Wisdom Meets Passion

How many times have you thought that you needed to be in control of everything in the organization? You become so busy you have no time for anything other than work. Don’t forget we weren’t made to work 24/7.

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
— Nelson Mandela

These are two important components of great leaders. Great leaders are willing to think and focus. They create plans. They think through the process. They study.

They also care about their employees. As Joel Manby says: Love Works.

“Do more than is required. What is the distance between someone who achieves their goals consistently and those who spend their lives and careers merely following? The extra mile. “
— Gary Ryan Blair, Author and Motivational Speaker

Want to become a more effective leader? Follow the advice of Gary Ryan Blair. Do more. Go the distance. Give more than expected.

“Focus your messages on the results you expect, not on the methods for doing the job.”
— Marty Brounstein, communications trainer

Learn to communicate better. The clearer you state what needs to be done, the chance your team will do the job properly rises.

Question: What’s one of your favorite quotes leadership and why? Please share your thoughts in the comment section and help me expand my journal of quotes.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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

    This clearly demonstrates that we have to teach by example. You cannot tell your child to quit smoking while you have a cigarette dangling from the side of your mouth and expect them to take you seriously!

    • That is an amazing quote Lorraine. It sums up leadership in a quick, brief message.

      It’s also a great call to those leaders who are do as I say, not as I do. Our actions must back up what we’re declaring.

  • This is a really nice post. I also feel the same way that staying motivated may it e through any source like quotes is really essential to become a good inspiring leader.

    • George, thanks. Quotes are great forms of motivation, aren’t they? What’s your favorite quote for motivation?

  • These are some great quotes. And you know I’m a sucker for a good quote. I really enjoyed “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” ~Tom Peters So true and powerful. Thanks for sharing these.

    • Yes Dan, I know you’re a huge fan of quotes. I love seeing the lists you put together on your site and the encouragement they bring.

  • These are some great quotes. Here is one of my favorite leadership quotes,
    ‘Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.’ Warren G. Bennis

    • That’s a good one Bernard. Leaders need to move their vision forward and make it true.

  • I’ve been reading The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick while I’ve been on vacation, and it is absolutely packed with great leadership quotes and inspiration.

    • I’ve heard Brad’s book has a lot of great content to it. It’s on my reading list for sure. What was one of your favorite quotes from the book?

      • Here are a couple from the book:

        “Hopeful leaders create hopeful cultures that create hopeful organizations that constantly release vision copycats.”

        “You must be disciplined enough to carve out time for the One who gives us the talents and life necessary for the work we do. When we are spiritually disciplined, we are often more vocationally effective.”

        “Making a difference many times starts with just simply making a move.”

        I have red-lines and highlight marks all over this book!

        • Those are some good ones Jon. I’m really looking forward to reading the book!

  • Vipul

    A person, who work, is not a leader, but person, who make the people work is a leader..

    My own cheers..

    • Vipul, I like the quote. Leaders must be able to encourage others to action. If we can’t, are we really leading?

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