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Leadership Quotes


* Great necessities call forth great leaders.
-- Abigail Adams

At one time or another, everyone chooses or is asked to be a leader. With training and understanding, we can all be better leaders when we are called to be in a leadership position.
-- Robert Alan Silverstein

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
-- John Quincy Adams

Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it.
-- Marian Anderson

* Whether our task is fighting poverty, stemming the spread of disease or saving innocent lives from mass murder, we have seen that we cannot succeed without the leadership of the strong and the engagement of all.
-- Kofi Annan
Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.
-- Susan B. Anthony

* Strong people don't need strong leaders.
-- Ella Baker

The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
-- Warren G. Bennis

Good leaders make people feel that they're at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning.
-- Warren Bennis

The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born -- that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That's nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.
-- Warren G. Bennis

The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.
-- Kenneth Blanchard

* Leaders should be collaborative, modest, and generous
-– Bill Bradley

There are many elements to a campaign.Leadership is number one. Everything else is number two.
-- Bernd Brecher

* “People learn to lead because they care about something.”
-- Charlotte Bunch

“We need women leaders. But we need them to have a vision for something.”
-- Charlotte Bunch

“Whether there are innately female leadership styles... is not really the right question. It is more important to ask why there has been so little attention paid to women leaders over the years as well as why the styles of leading more often exhibited by women are particularly useful at this critical moment in history.”
Charlotte Bunch

A leader must have the courage to act against an expert's advice.
-- James Callaghan

* No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.
~ Andrew Carnegie

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

* Times of upheaval require not just more leadership but more leaders. People at all organizational levels, whether anointed or self-appointed, must be empowered to share leadership responsibilities.
-- Rosalynn Carter

* Through mutual understanding, sincerity and goodwill, and with great wisdom and broad views, the leaders on both sides should jointly initiate new opportunities for peace, stability, cooperation and mutual benefit.
-- Chen Shui-bian

It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies.
-- Noam Chomsky

A good leader is not the person who does things right, but the person who finds the right things to do.
-- Anthony T. Dadovano

I never had much faith in leaders. I am willing to be charged with almost anything, rather than to be charged with being a leader. I am suspicious of leaders, and especially of the intellectual variety. Give me the rank and file every day in the week. If you go to the city of Washington, and you examine the pages of the Congressional Directory, you will find that almost all of those corporation lawyers and cowardly politicians, members of Congress, and mis-representatives of the masses -- you will find that almost all of them claim, in glowing terms, that they have risen from the ranks to places of eminence and distinction. I am very glad I cannot make that claim for myself. I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks.
-- Eugene V. Debs

Leadership is much more an art, a belief, a condition of the heart, than a set of things to do. The visible signs of artful leadership are expressed, ultimately, in its practice.
-- Max DePree

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.
-- Max DePree

Every successful leader must instill the vision of where the organization is going and what is necessary to attain that goal.
-- John Di Frances

The six essential leadership attributes: set high standards; live your standards and mentor those who follow; create and share a vision; make the hard choices when necessary; be visible and outfront; and instill hope in those who follow.
-- John Di Frances

* Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.
-- Peter F. Drucker

Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.
-- Peter F. Drucker

Leaders grow; they are not made.
-- Peter F. Drucker

Checking the results of a decision against its expectations shows executives what their strengths are, where they need to improve, and where they lack knowledge or information.
-- Peter F. Drucker

No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.
-- Peter F. Drucker

Leadership is not magnetic personality—that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not "making friends and influencing people"—that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.
-- Peter F. Drucker

The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say "I." And that's not because they have trained themselves not to say "I." They don't think "I." They think "we"; they think "team." They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but "we" gets the credit…. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.
-- Peter F. Drucker

“The led must not be compelled, they must be able to choose their own leader”
-- Albert Einstein

You do not lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership.
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Leadership: the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

* "America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

* "We can't do it by ourselves, but if enough of us do it, we change the cultural climate, and then the leaders follow."
-- Riane Eisler

The main characteristics of effective leadership are intelligence, integrity or loyalty, mystique, humor, discipline, courage, self sufficieny and confidence.
-- James L. Fisher

Leadership is the special quality which enables people to stand up and pull the rest of us over the horizon.
-- James L. Fisher

Every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: 'Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path?' If you don't ask those questions, your governance will not be good.
-- Pope Francis

* The trust of the people in the leaders reflects the confidence of the leaders in the people.
Paulo Freire

Leadership can be thought of as a capacity to define oneself to others in a way that clarifies and expands a vision of the future.
-- Edwin H. Friedman

* "Today a reader, tomorrow a leader. "
-- Margaret Fuller


I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.
-- Mohandas K. Gandhi


"A prime function of a leader is to keep hope alive."
-- John William Gardner

Most important, leaders can conceive and articulate goals that lift people out of their petty preoccupations and unite them in pursuit of objectives worthy of their best efforts.
-- John William Gardner

Good leaders must first become good servants.
-- Robert Greenleaf

The only test of leadership is that somebody follows.
--Robert K. Greenleaf

The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision.
-- Theodore Hesburgh

“We need to be activating deep democracy because democracy is fleeting through our fingers, and most people are unaware of it. Democracy is about dispersing power among the interconnected people. As a people, we need to rise to the level of forcing our leaders to abide by our stated principles - really exercise democracy, not only on our behalf but on behalf of the world. We need to continue, as part and parcel of the American experience created by the founding forefathers, and now the foremothers, to insist, "We want democracy to work, and that means every voice counts."
-- Dr. Azizah al-Hibri

* I never thought in terms of being a leader. I thought very simply in terms of helping people.
-- John Hume


A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.
-- Henrik Ibsen

* "A person, who no matter how desperate the situation, gives others hope, is a true leader."
-- Daisaku Ikeda

Time is neutral and does not change things. With courage and initiative, leaders change things.
-- Jesse Jackson

* Leadership has a harder job to do than just choose sides. It must bring sides together.
-- Jesse Jackson

So, poetry becomes a means for useful dialogue between people who are not only unknown, but mute to each other. It produces a dialogue among people that guards all of us against manipulation by our so-called leaders.
-- June Jordan

"Creativity is a lot like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. You look at a set of elements, the same ones everyone else sees, but then reassemble those floating bits and pieces into an enticing new possibility. Effective leaders are able to"
-- Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Leaders are more powerful role models when they learn than when they teach.
-- Rosabeth Moss Kantor

* Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
-- John F. Kennedy

A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today - and in fact we have forgotten.
-- John F. Kennedy

* A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr

There's nothing more demoralizing than a leader who can't clearly articulate why we're doing what we're doing.
--James Kouzes and Barry Posner

you must unite your constituents around a common cause and connect with them as human beings.
--James Kouzes and Barry Posner

Leadership is getting someone to do what they don't want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve.
-- Tom Landry

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worse when they despise him....But of a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, "We did it ourselves.
-- Lao Tzu

Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.
-- Lao Tzu

* Leadership consists not in degrees of technique but in traits of character; it requires moral rather than athletic or intellectual effort, and it imposes on both leader and follower alike the burdens of self-restraint.
-- Lewis Lapham

Leaders don't force people to follow—they invite them on a journey.
-- Charles S. Lauer

The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.
-- Walter Lippman

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

The masses are in reality their own leaders, dialectically creating their own development process.
-- Rosa Luxemburg

* “In Iroquois society, leaders are encouraged to remember seven generations in the past and consider seven generations in the future when making decisions that affect the people.”
-- Wilma Mankiller

“America would be a better place if leaders would do more long-term thinking.”
-- Wilma Mankiller

The first step to leadership is servanthood.
-- John Maxwell

The world leaders in innovation and creativity will also be world leaders in everything else.
-- Harold R. McAlindon

Leadership is action, not position.
-- Donald H. McGannon

* I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.
-- Ralph Nader

“A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.”
-- Ralph Nader

Americans... still believe in an America where anything's possible - they just don't think their leaders do.
-- Barack Obama

Leadership should be more participative than directive, more enabling than performing.
-- Mary D. Poole

No organization is stronger than the quality of its leadership, or ever extends its constituency far beyond the degree to which its leadership is representative.
-- Edgar Powell

When we allow one group of people to look down upon another, then we may for a short time bring hardship on some particular group of people, but the real hardship and the real wrong is done to democracy and to our nation as a whole. We are then breeding people who cannot live under a democratic form of government but must be controlled by force. We have but to look out into the world to see how easy it is to become stultified, to accept without protest wrongs done to others, and to shift the burden of decision and responsibility for any action onto some vague thing called a government or some individual called a leader.
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

* A good leader can't get too far ahead of his followers.
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt
* “People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.”
-- Theodore Roosevelt

* “It’s quite possible to arrive in the year 2030 where people are no longer dying of poverty. We could actually help lead a global end-not a reduction, but an end-to absolute poverty…I have always found that a committed, powerful group of leaders, can make a huge difference.”
-- Jeffrey Sachs

* Widespread intellectual and moral docility may be convenient for leaders in the short term, but it is suicidal for nations in the long term. One of the criteria for national leadership should therefore be a talent for understanding, encouraging, and making constructive use of vigorous criticism.
-- Carl Sagan

Leadership is not so much about technique and methods as it is about opening the heart. Leadership is about inspiration—of oneself and of others. Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes. Leadership is not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine.
-- Lance Secretan

Leaders are the ones who keep faith with the past, keep step with the present, and keep the promise to posterity.
-- Harold J. Seymour

* Leadership is not manifested by coercion, even against the resented. Greatness is not manifested by unlimited pragmatism, which places such a high premium on the end justifying any means and any measures.
-- Margaret Chase Smith

* Ma muaka kite a muri
Ma muri ka ora a mua
(Those who lead give sight to those who follow
Those who follow give life to those who lead)

-- Pauline Tangiora

* "Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person."
-- Mother Teresa.

The only safe ship in a storm is leadership.
-- Faye Wattleton

* Whoever is providing leadership needs to be as fresh and thoughtful and reflective as possible to make the very best fight.
-- Faye Wattleton

* When leaders take back power, when they act as heroes and saviors, they end up exhausted, overwhelmed, and deeply stressed.
-- Margaret J. Wheatley

* Education is the mother of leadership.
-- Wendell Wilkie

* The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.
-- Woodrow Wilson

We Americans are world leaders and we must lead by example - particularly in times that require careful deliberation before any precipitous action - lest we fail to walk in the shoes of those we might injure.
-- Peter Yarrow


Leadership Week - February 1-7


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