Leadership is a complex topic, one that goes well beyond the ability to come up with noteworthy quotes; but the study of quotes can be insightful. Reading them serves as a reminder that it's sometimes good to step back from a harried world and think about situations, rather than just react to them.
We've looked through hundreds of quotes for examples that fit that description. Leadership can't rub off on someone just by reading the quotes, but the message may help them become a better leader. In the paragraphs below, are quotations from people known to have exhibited characteristics of a great leader; with one notorious exception.
Quotes from Sir Winston Churchill
This great British politician and notable leader often provided insights along with humor:
"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it." Sir Winston Churchill
"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." Sir Winston Churchill
"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried." Sir Winston Churchill
"All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in single words: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope." Sir Winston Churchill
"It is a mistake to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time." Sir Winston Churchill
"One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half." Sir Winston Churchill
"The price of greatness is responsibility." Sir Winston Churchill
Quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King provided the world with many insights, and is quoted often. Many of his quotes deal with the injustice he was faced with back in the early 1960s. In sticking to a leadership theme, his quotes are limited to those that speak to what it takes to be a leader.
"Our lives begin to end the day we are silent on things that matter." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt
This First Lady and diplomat was a pillar of strength, and truly became a role model to all women in her time. Her leadership abilities are simply amazing given the attitudes towards women at that time, and her quotes just as remarkable.
"Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art." Eleanor Roosevelt
"I could not at any age be content to take my place in the corner by the fireside and simply look on." Eleanor Roosevelt
"It is not fair to ask others what you are unwilling to do yourself." Eleanor Roosevelt
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Roosevelt
"I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision." Eleanor Roosevelt
Quotes from Mahatma Gandhi
Another politician and a nationalist leader, quotes from Gandhi demonstrate his deep inner peace and leadership abilities.
"As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it." Mahatma Gandhi
"Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress." Mahatma Gandhi
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." Mahatma Gandhi
"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong." Mahatma Gandhi
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi
Quotes from Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin wore many hats in life: American leader, author, politician, and inventor. While many of his quotes poke fun at life in the 1700's, many have stood the test of time.
"Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What's a sun dial in the shade?" Benjamin Franklin "A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over." Benjamin Franklin
"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest." Benjamin Franklin
"At 20 years of age the will reigns, at 30 the wit, at 40 the judgment." Benjamin Franklin
"Drive thy business or it will drive thee." Benjamin Franklin
"Employ thy time well, if thou meanest to get leisure." Benjamin Franklin
"Energy and persistence conquer all things." Benjamin Franklin
Final Leadership Quotes
Here is a final list of quotes dealing specifically with leadership. Again, reading these should cause us to pause and think. We'll start with one from a notorious "leader" and finish up with one on the lighter side.
"What luck for rulers that men do not think." Adolf Hitler
"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." John F. Kennedy
"A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done." Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided." Casey Stengel
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