leadership quote world leaders

25 Leadership Quotes from the World’s Greatest Leaders

Whether you need a little leadership inspiration today or want to inspire your team and/or social networks, here are my top 25 leadership quotes from the world’s greatest leaders—past and present.

1. “The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground.”

Sir Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

2. “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.”

Max DePree, founder and former CEO of Herman Miller office furniture company

3. “He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.”

Aristotle, Greek philosopher

4. “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

Theodore Roosevelt, former President of the United States

5. “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, former First Lady of the United States

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

Sam Walton, founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club

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

Andrew Carnegie, entrepreneur and philanthropist

8. “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

Bill Gates, CEO and chairman of Microsoft

9. “Do what you feel in your heart to be right–for you’ll be criticized anyway.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States

10. “If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.”

Benjamin Franklin, American founder, inventor and diplomat

11. “If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.”

Maya Angelou, author and poet

12. “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”

Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa

leaders quote vince lombardi13. “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, former National Football Association player, coach and executive

14. “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”

Harvey Firestone, founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company

15. “Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.”

Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

16. “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.”

Laozi (or Lao Tzu), Chinese philosopher

17. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist

18. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

John Quincy Adams, former President of the United States

19. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., American humanitarian and activist

20. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

Steve Jobs, entrepreneur and co-founder of Apple Inc.

21. “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”

Rosa Parks, civil rights activist

22. “Lead me, follow me or get out of my way.”

Warren Bennis, scholar and author

23. “Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, philosopher and poet

24. “If you have no character to lose, people will have no faith in you.”

Mahatma Gandhi, civil rights activist and philosopher

25. “We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”

Marie Curie, physicist and chemist

Follow our own leaders, CEO Boland T. Jones, CTO David Guthrie and EVP Strategy Sean O’Brien, on Twitter for more inspiration, leadership quotes and business wisdom.

About Blakely T.

Blakely is a work-life juggler with three little monsters, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book-a-holic, Atlanta transplant and PR/social/content strategist (and presentations nerd) for PGi.

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