Leadership Quotes

Leadership quotes are like rock cairns. Both offer travelers helpful markers along the journey. When visibility is poor or the trail becomes ambiguous in rocky terrain, cairns help hikers discern the route to the summit. A pile of stones laid by those who have successfully navigated the path ahead, cairns bring clarity to adventurers wending their the way through unfamiliar terrain.

leadership quotes cairn grays peak colorado

Cairn on the slopes of Colorado’s Grays Peak – highest peak on the Continental Divide in the U.S. (Elevation 14,270 ft.)
Photo Credit: Todd Kemp

Similarly, leadership quotes can bring clarity to the leader’s journey. They are not the destination itself, yet they point the way to peak performance. As leaders navigate ambiguous or challenging territory, leadership quotes by people of insight who have gone before us can provide wisdom and inspiration for the path toward exceptional stewardship.

For your encouragement, challenge and inspiration, I offer a few of my favorite leadership quotes here. I invite you to share your favorite leadership quotes with us!

Leadership Quotes (Alphabetical by Author)

“The most persistent barrier to Servant-Leadership is a heart motivated by self-interest!” ~ Ronnie Andrews

“Values are the windows through which your decisions are made.” ~  Kevin Baerg, Created to Win

“Be driven by your values, not cornered by your circumstances.” ~ Kevin Baerg, Created to Win

“Ultimately, leadership is more about ‘being’ than ‘doing.'” ~ Henry Blackaby

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” ~ Ken Blanchard

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” ~ Francis Chan

“Successful people stick to what they are good at and find ways to make that larger.” ~ Dr. Henry Cloud, Integrity

“To grow, we need things that we do not have and cannot provide, and we need to have a source of those things who looks favorably upon us and who does things for us for our own good.” – Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend, How People Grow

“We were surprised, shocked really, to discover…great leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.” ~ Jim Collins, Good to Great

“Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.” ~ Stephen Covey

“Doing things right is not as important as doing the right things!” ~ Peter Drucker

“An organization which just perpetuates today’s level of vision, excellence, and accomplishment has lost the capacity to adapt.” ~ Peter Drucker

“The future isn’t just a place you’ll go; it’s a place you will invent.” ~ Nancy Duarte, Resonate

“The highest calling of leadership is to unlock the potential in others.” ~ Carly Fiorina

“It’s easy to confuse motion with progress.” ~ David Gergen

“Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.” ~ Seth Godin

“Do they [customers] trust me enough to believe my promises?” ~ Seth Godin

“Your culture is your brand.” ~ Tony Hsieh

“It’s easy to lose our way when we lose our why.” ~ Michael Hyatt

“There are two dimensions to leadership: performance and values. You can’t have one without the other.” ~ Larry Johnston

“Only those leaders who act boldly in times of crisis and change are willingly followed.” ~ James Kouzes

“In order to win a man to your cause, you must first reach his heart, the great high road to his reason.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

“When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best possible answer.” ~ Patrick Lencioni

“Organizational health is the single greatest competitive advantage in business.” ~ Patrick Lencioni

“If everything is important, then nothing is.” ~ Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

“Really great people rarely leave a healthy organization.” ~ Patrick Lencioni

“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” ~ C.S. Lewis

“When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both.” ~ Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

“Leadership is a choice you make, not a position you sit in.” ~ John Maxwell

“We fail, not because of big problems, but because of small purposes.” ~ John Maxwell, Be All You Can Be

“There will always be more good ideas than there is capacity to execute.” ~ Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling, The 4 Disciplines of Execution

“Done right, a strategic intent is really one decision that makes 1,000 decisions.” ~ Greg McKeown

“Who you are, what your values are, what you stand for…they are your anchor, your north star. You won’t find them in a book. You’ll find them in your soul.” ~ Anne Mulcahy

“Never forget that your role as a leader is to be a steward for future generations.” ~ Marilyn Carlson Nelson, How We Lead Matters

“Truth-telling by a leader can legitimate truth-telling at every level.” ~ Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness

“The role of a creative leader is not to have all have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued.” ~ Sir Ken Robinson

“If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.” – Richard Rohr

“You can make a difference in the world, or you can commit to making your difference.” ~ Mark Sanborn, Fred 2.0

“Mostly we fear the failed conversations, when in fact it’s the missing conversations that cause as many if not more problems.” ~ Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations

“An accurate, insightful view of current reality is as important as a clear vision.” ~ Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline

“Good results are difficult when indifference predominates.” ~ Singer Sewing Manual, 1949

“Complexity is the enemy of clarity.” ~ Andy Stanley, Next Generation Leader

“Leadership is not always about getting things done ‘right.’ Leadership is about getting things done through other people.” ~ Andy Stanley, Next Generation Leader

“Success is an intoxicant, and intoxicated people seldom have a firm grasp on reality.” ~ Andy Stanley, Next Generation Leader

“When you acknowledge your weaknesses to the rest of the team, it is never new information.” ~ Andy Stanley, Next Generation Leader

“It takes lots of unspectacular preparation to get spectacular results.” ~ Roger Staubach

“One of the first signs of an endangered leader is a decrease in his willingness to hear and learn from the experiences of others.” ~ Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, Ken McElrath, The Ascent of a Leader

“Define the ‘real’ problem that needs to be solved, rather than the problem you think you should solve, and magic will happen.” ~ Robert S. Tipton, JUMP! Get Unstuck

“Leading from your inner world ultimately produces better results in your leadership.” ~ John Townsend, Leadership Beyond Reason

“It’s not about you.” ~ Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life

“Business is a primary arrangement on God’s part for people to love one another and serve one another.” ~ Dallas Willard

“Trust is the currency on which leaders of healthy organizations create change.” ~ Dan Wolgemuth

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” ~ John Wooden

“My job is to awaken possibility in other people.” ~ Benjamin Zander

What are your favorite leadership quotes?

I invite you to join the conversation.