Leaders are learners, decision-makers, risk-takers, assistants, and any other description needed of them in a moment’s notice. In all areas of human society, leaders are important. Those who take a leadership role can do so in a range of different ways. But all those who lead effectively understand the importance of and the leadership qualities required to inspire others to follow them. A good leader can not only inspire others in thought – expressing powerful ideas and changing minds. A good leader can also inspire action. Here are 49 leadership quotes that can inspire action and change, hopefully, in the most amazing of ways.
49 Leadership Quotes
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Howard D. Schultz is an American businessman, author, and philanthropist. He served as the chairman and CEO of the Starbucks Coffee Corporation twice for a total of two decades. During his time there, Schultz consolidated Starbucks’ position as the largest coffee-house chain in the world.
Schultz is a classic example of a leader. During the 2008 recession, Schultz returned as chief executive to stabilize the company after years of unsustainable growth. And he achieved nearly $100 billion in market capitalization to the company, a 21,000% increase in shareholder value. Schultz achieved these results with his unique leadership style; he never took actions without pre-discussion with his team.
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American automobile manufacturer, Henry Ford created the Ford Model T in 1908. He went on to develop the assembly line mode of production, which completely revolutionized the automotive industry. Ford identified what the problem was with ease of mobility, he also identified a solution. As a result, Ford sold millions of cars and became a world-famous business leader.
This leadership quote from Ford is a reminder of his genius approach to manufacturing. Instead of dwelling on problems, leaders should task themselves with finding a solution. Or finding someone who can provide the needed solution.
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Shonda Rhimes is a veteran American television producer, film writer, and author. Many know her as the showrunner creator and executive producer of two hit TV series; Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. Rhimes was recently honoured with a leadership award at the Hollywood Reporter's annual Women in Entertainment event "breaking through the industry glass ceiling as a woman and an African American".
Rhimes is an ardent believer of saying things as they are, instead of sweeping hard topics under the carpet. As a leader, you should not completely avoid difficult conversations with your people.
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America’s 15th president, James Buchanan Jr. was a member of the Democratic Party for much of his career. He also served as Secretary of State and represented Pennsylvania in both houses of the U.S. Congress before becoming President. Presumably, he arrived in the White House with every understanding of what leadership or management is all about.
In Buchanan’s last year of his tenure, he learnt that “the test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for greatness is already there”. Buchanan claimed this was something he wished he had learnt earlier.
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American medical epidemiologist, Seth Franklin Berkley is the CEO of the GAVI Alliance and a global advocate of the power of vaccines. The GAVI Alliance is a public-private partnership whose mission is to save children's lives and protect people's health by increasing access to immunisation in developing countries.
Berkley joined the GAVI Alliance as its CEO in August 2011. Under his leadership, GAVI has prevented more than five million future deaths and helped protect 288 million children with new and underused vaccines. Berkley's leadership has the vision to deliver vaccines to another quarter of a billion children and prevent four million more deaths by 2021.
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American footballer, Julie Maurine Foudy is a two-time FIFA Women's World Cup champion and Olympic gold medallist. She co-founded the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy, an organization focused on developing leadership skills in teenage girls. This served as a relay test of leadership for her. In 2007, the National Soccer Hall of Fame inducted Foudy along with her teammate, Mia Hamm.
Foudy’s leadership quote speaks to the ability of a leader to switch roles as needed. Sometimes, you may need to be a comforter. Other times, you may need to be a commanding officer. With experience, leaders will learn to identify their needed roles as they come up.
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American theologian and author, James Freeman has a simple definition of leadership. He coined this from John C. Maxwell, who defined leadership as influence. A servant leader is one who knows that his influence individually can make a difference but collectively can make a huge impact. “Strong convictions precede great actions,” said James Freeman Clarke. He’s right. What causes and convictions are you and your organization building around?
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CEO of WW International, Mindy Grossman has worked with several Fortune 500 companies. These companies range from Nike to Ralph Lauren, HSN, and more. During her stint in the business world, Grossman worked with several leaders who taught much of what she knows about steering a large organization.
Grossman’s career reflected these lessons. She led Nike’s Women’s line to a 100% revenue growth in 5 years. She aggressively reinvented and relaunched the HSN brand and took it public in 2008 prior to becoming CEO of WW international.
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Four-star Vietnam War veteran, Norman Schwarzkopf was a commander of the U.S. Central Command. Schwarzkopf believes that one element to great leadership is competence. He noted that a person with personality quickly earns respect, which is another essential of a great leader. In one of Schwarzkopf’s books, he laid out some rules of leadership as a yardstick for modern leaders to measure themselves against. He highlighted the importance of character; people want to follow someone who has the strength of character to do the right thing in times of crisis.
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Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain has earned herself the title of the longest-serving British monarch and one of the longest-reigning monarchs in the world. She ascended the throne at a very young age but showed maturity, character, determination, and commitment of the highest order which has made her one of the longest-reigning monarchs in the world. Her leadership qualities led her to this status. Business leaders can learn a thing or two about leadership from her Majesty.
Through her leadership style, the Queen brought civilization to monarchy regardless of opposition. From someone who has spent most of her life as a ruler, this leadership quote shares an important message. There’s no one-route to success as a leader. Different situations require different responses and it’s perfectly fine to try and fail until you find the right answers.
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American software programmer and entrepreneur, Justin Michael Rosenstein is the co-founder and head of product at Asana. He is a great advocate of time management. Justin believes “when you’re managing your time well, important work gets done ahead of schedule, your teammates feel like they can rely on you, and you can feel good about how you spent your time.”
As a leader, it is easy to use up most of your time worrying about how others are spending theirs. But this leadership quote explains the importance of also managing your time for better all-round productivity.
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John Calvin Maxwell is a renowned American Pastor, author and speaker. He has written many books primarily focusing on leadership. Many credit Maxwell for his expertise in this field. He preaches about how leaders should know the right way, so they direct his disciples in the best course. This leadership quote speaks to this necessary quality in any leader.
Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP, an international leadership development organization working to help Christian leaders around the world fulfil the Great Commission in every nation.
Whether you are a leader or a follower, perhaps these quotes have inspired you. Perhaps one or more of them has hit home and taught you something profound. The actions of leaders are responsible for change as we know it. Leaders are not just people in positions of authority. We are people who identify problems and work with others to create solutions. Good leaders (and leadership) must be found on the pathway forward to a better future.