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50 Inspiring Leadership Quotes from the Greatest Leaders of All Time

50 Inspiring Leadership Quotes from the Greatest Leaders of All Time

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes but they will often have a number of similar qualities that have ultimately helped them to reach the pinnacle of their career.

There are a number of things that we can then learn from them if we study the way in which they act or things they say. After all, what better way to attempt to overcome our own problems or issues by listening to those that have achieved something?

So, what we have done is sought to produce a list of 50 quotes from the greatest leaders that have ever lived that we hope will inspire. Our aim is to provide you with something that you can relate to when things are tough.

“Don’t find the fault, find the remedy” — Henry Ford

Henry Ford is responsible for the mass explosion of the automobile changing the way in which we travel forever. In this, he is stating how it is useless to focus on what has gone wrong. Instead, we must look forward to determine how we can either resolve the issue or how to proceed in life. Focusing on the problem means we stay stuck.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” — John F. Kennedy

In order to become a leader, you must have a willingness to learn. This means learn from your mistakes as well as dealing with problems. Being unwilling to adapt leads to mistakes and your leadership will then come under scrutiny.

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” — Steve Jobs

A strong leader is one who can take a problem or issue and create solutions. A failure to do this means you are the follower who takes the orders and carries out the actions. If you feel that your mind is creative, then you are tailor-made for becoming a leader.

“A leader is a dealer in hope.” — Napoleon Bonaparte

A leader is the one that provides those that listen to them with a sense that anything is possible. They can help people to lift their head when times are tough and see that all is not as bad as they fear.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Nobody else is going to make the changes for you. It all rests on your shoulders. Your vision of the world around you is unique to you, so the only person capable of altering things has to be the only person with that vision.

“If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulder of giants.” — Isaac Newton

Your vision for the future or ability to achieve amazing things is built on you using what has gone before you. By taking those achievements as your foundation, your own ability to do better will then become easier.

“Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.” — Albert Einstein

Your ability to think for yourself mixed with the freedom that comes with that is something that you should use on a daily basis.

Don’t be afraid to break free from the norm if that is what your mind is telling you to do rather than follow along the same path as everyone else.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller

An individual that is aware that they cannot do something all on their own is one that is in a stronger position than most.

The stress associated with tackling things in this way is too great for any individual to bear and you will achieve so much more by welcoming others into the fray.

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“The only safe ship in a storm is leadership.” — Faye Wattleton

Your strength can shine through when times are tough as that is where a leader comes into their own.

You can unlock that inner strength that you may not have even known that you had during a crisis, and the safety that you can give to others means so much when you have a calm head.

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The only way in which you will make progress in life when you come up against an obstacle is to be willing to go down a new path and to have the confidence that you will get to the other side.

Doing the same thing over and over again will only lead to the same results.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” — Barack Obama

If we hang around for something to happen due to someone else, then we will wait for a long time.

The only person you can truly rely on is yourself.[1] If you find yourself in a position where you are frustrated at the lack of action, then look to yourself for the solution.

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” — Warren Buffett

A good leader will plan ahead and predict potential problems long before they occur. This could mean providing your team with rest and relaxation with slumber search so they feel motivated and energized to perform.

By doing this, it means the future is smoother than it would have otherwise been while also limiting the possibility of things going wrong.

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” — Lao Tzu

No matter the size of the task before you, it will never get done unless you take that all important first step.

By merely putting one foot in front of the other, you will make a difference no matter the length of the road ahead of you. However, fail to take that step and you will remain where you are.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

Those inner feelings that we experience are the strongest things of all. Your ability to influence the way that people feel about you lies at the heart of your leadership.

Make them feel good and you will always be viewed in a better light.

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

With the heart being linked to the way in which we feel our emotions, it is better to focus on that area when dealing with others.

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In doing so, you can touch them more deeply than would have otherwise been possible.

“We don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.” — Mark Zuckerberg

Focus on what is important in order to further yourself. Plan how you can achieve those things in advance rather than attempting to deal with it all as it happens.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas A. Edison

Repetition is key. A failure is merely a way of discovering that the initial plan was not as good as you hoped. A strong individual will then seek an alternative option and keep on going until they get to where they want to be.

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” — Steve Jobs

Your passion for something will always come across in what you do. That passion cannot be masked or faked. If you do not have that emotion, then you are doing the wrong thing and working in the wrong areas.

“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” — Buddha

Devotion to what you are doing and putting your heart and soul into it generates results. Anything that fails to include all of that will be half-hearted and is more likely to lead to failure.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” — Leo Tolstoy

We are guilty of looking externally to try to resolve our internal problems. We believe that the answers lie elsewhere when, in actual fact, it is often deep inside us where resolutions have to be found.

“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.” — Lao Tzu

The best leader is not one that bears down over everyone. Instead, they provide more of a guiding hand while also offering a sense of free-will.

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill

You must trust your own thoughts and beliefs. If you are capable of coming up with them, then you are capable of achieving them. Our own mind and thoughts will often be our biggest enemy, but only if we allow them.

“Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.” — Peter McWilliams

You will never make progress if you refuse to move out of your comfort zone in any way.

Being uncomfortable will push us into taking action that will propel us forward even if it’s to get us out of a particular situation.

“Mountaintops inspire leaders but valleys mature them.” — Winston Churchill

The only way in which you can achieve the heights of being on top of the mountain is by working your way through the strong foundations that lie at the foot.

No mountain is complete without a valley before it, and without it the mountain would never exist.

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” — Albert Einstein

We are guilty of thinking that success if everything. Being of value in some way is better as it means you are providing something to others rather than purely being all about your own self.

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“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Our own thoughts are guilty of tripping us up more than anything else.

If you work hard at believing that you can achieve something, then all that is required is to do the actions to reach your desired target. Fail to even imagine it and you will always get nowhere.

“Our destiny is not written for us, but by us.” — Barack Obama

We are the only ones that can take control of our destiny. Nobody else will do it for us. If you want to achieve your dreams, then it rests on your shoulders.

“Inventories can be managed, but people must be led.” — H. Ross Perot

People require that sense of guidance to get anywhere. A leader is the one that is able to offer this while also being capable of guiding their own self to their own destination. This means your team must be managed carefully. In business this can take many forms.

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” — John D. Rockefeller

Being quite happy with what you have will prevent you from moving into a world where everything is better. A willingness to push forward will be rewarded whereas accepting your lot will result in you becoming stuck in life.

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

Just waiting and hoping that something will happen will lead to nothing. Those that take the ball and run with it are the only ones that can change the world, and it is those individuals that become the leaders.

“Leadership is a mindset in action. So don’t wait for the title. Leadership isn’t something that anyone can give you – you have to earn it and claim it for yourself.” — Travis Bradberry

Once again this quote stresses the need for action to be taken rather than hoping that something will come your way. The great leaders had to fight and scrape to get to their pinnacle, and you have to be willing to do the same.

“It’s not about money or connections – it’s the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone.” — Mark Cuban

You must have that constant desire to better yourself in life in order to get anywhere. External things may play a part, but it has to come from within you and to have that desire to make a difference for the right things to then occur.

“The task of the leader is to get their people from where they are to where they have not been.” — Henry Kissinger

The ability to guide others into new areas and to have the confidence to tackle whatever faces them is essential for any leader. We all have to encounter fear at some point, but it’s what we do with that fear that will prove to be the most important thing of all.

“It’s your unlimited power to create and to love that can make the biggest difference in the quality of your life.” — Tony Robbins

We have undiscovered strengths deep inside our inner core. Our main difficulty is in managing to unleash them and to put them to good use. Our continual desire to look at our own self to make a difference is the thing that can propel us forward.

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” — Vince Lombardi

Give up on the idea of perfection as that adds stress with something that we cannot achieve. We need to lower our sights from the impossible to the possible and to then make sure that we hit those targets instead.

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” — Henry Ford

No matter how tough a situation may be, there is always a way around it. The way in which the airplane takes off against the wind means it has to work harder to achieve its aim, and that is the exact same as you.

“When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” — Michelle Obama

There is a real sense of having to be grateful to others for what you have achieved. Also, a strong individual will have a desire to help others to achieve after them as that is the way in which the world operates.

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

Knowing when to help and when to adopt the hands-off approach is important and a sign of a good leader. The desire to meddle can overpower people, so your ability to refrain from doing this is important.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” — Henry Ford

If you work as a team and share responsibilities for anything in life, then you can achieve amazing things.

However, if all are not pulling in the same direction, it will then slow progress down and lead to additional problems that could have been avoided.

“When people talk, listen completely.” — Ernest Hemingway

You never know what you may learn from others or when that will happen. Believing that someone has nothing to offer you is wrong and the only way to discover this is to give full attention to everyone.

“Communication is the most important skill any leader can possess.” — Richard Branson

Poor communication means an inability to get your point across in the correct manner. The problems that can then arise will often become too difficult to comprehend, and it would never have happened if you had the skill of communication.

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.” — Mahatma Gandhi

The ability to manage others cannot be overlooked. In the past, a leader was in charge of an army and had to be physically strong. Now, the strength is in people management, and if you are lacking in this area, then you ability to lead is compromised

“My jobs as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they’re having a meaningful impact.” — Larry Page

Everyone must feel as if they are part of the same team. They must also believe that what they are doing is making a difference and they are capable of making an impact. Individuals feeling lost will lead to problems, so you must address this before it’s too late.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” — Michael Jordan

Teamwork is at the root of success. Knowing who you can rely on at various times makes the entire process so much smoother as is knowing when to use their skills to gain the best possible results.

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then, you have to play it better than anyone else.” — Albert Einstein

The only way to become the best is to know every aspect of the game and to then understand how to possibly get any advantage. A failure to know the rules leads to problems and mistakes.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” — Charles Darwin

An inability to change will lead to no progress being made. A reluctance to accept that the old way of doing things may not have worked shows intelligence and that you aren’t stubborn. Adaptation leads to progress while rigidity means the opposite.

“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.” — Lao Tzu

Accept that things change no matter how much you don’t want them to. This inability to prevent it has to be understood to allow you to make progress in life.

“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

A willingness to share responsibilities and achievements are the best attributes for a leader to have. Passing praise onto others leads to them feeling better about things rather than merely being a pawn in a game.

“A leader is not an administrator who loves to run others, but someone who carries water for his people so that they can get on with their jobs.” — Robert Townsend

A good leader provides people with the impetus to achieve things. They provide them with the correct tools to get to where they want to be. They help them to get there rather than focusing on their own individual selves and by doing so they will also vastly improve their own life.

More Resources About Leadership

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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Chris Porteous

The CEO of Grey Smoke Media / My SEO Sucks, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

Where you work has an enormous impact on how you work – on your ability to focus (and stay focused) and your overall ability to be productive. That means the design of your office, whether you work at home or in a larger company environment, is of supreme importance. This isn’t just about Feng Shui, this is about producing results and getting things done.

According to studies done on workplace and productivity, the most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment. In fact, it’s been said that a well-designed office can increase your productivity about 20%. However, despite the studies and statistics, nearly half of the employers interviewed don’t consider workplace design a good business investment.

So what is a productivity hack to do? What if you work in an environment that doesn’t promote focus?

Check these 15 factors and make changes where you can. A little adjustment can produce a lot of impact.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important factors in staying focused and feeling inspired to create, yet it’s one of the most overlooked and least invested in. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.

If you work in a company office:
You probably have no control over your general lighting so bring in your own, if need be. Consider using natural light bulbs or a light therapy device.

If you work from a home office:
Open the windows and doors and let natural light in. Using lamps in a variety of areas for cloudy days or when it’s dark.

Chair and Table

If you’ve ever sat at a desk to do work but found yourself adjusting, stretching and moving too often to actually stay focused, then you’re aware of the importance of having a correctly fitted table and chair. In today’s work environment where so many of us are sitting for most of our day, it is critical that your throne fits your body probably.

Consider these quick ergonomic checks:

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  • Eyes 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye-level.
  • Feet should be on a foot rest or resting on the floor.
  • A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.

If you work in a company office:
Ask for an adjustable chair. Add pillows for your lower back or bum, if you need it. Many companies will also provide risers for computers to adjust the height of your computer screen (and a separate keyboard to keep your hands and wrists in the ideal position)

If you work from a home office:
Invest in a decent chair or at least use a few pillows to make the chair more comfortable. If the table is too high, add pillows to your chair. If it is too low, consider buying leg risers from your local hardware store and using books beneath your computer to raise the screen. Use a separate keyboard.

Clutter

Your mama was right, it’s important to clean up your room. Clutter may help the creative mind create, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for focus and productivity.

If you work from a company office: While you can’t control the cleanliness of the office at large, do keep your own environment around you clean. Spend 10 minutes every morning or evening making sure things are put away, filed, organized and generally out of sight so you’re not distracted by it later.

If you work from a home office: Because you work from home, the entire house or apartment is potential for distraction. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to keep your home clean. If not, schedule a specific day and time to clean your home. Commit to doing daily pickup at a specific time. And spend at least 10 minutes every day making sure your office  is organized and tidy.

Room Color

The colors around us all have an effect on our moods and brain function. It evokes both a physical and emotional response. So choosing the right colors for your work space has the ability to affect your productivity. For instance, blue has been said to illicit productivity. Mind you, too much of anything can be overwhelming, even color.

If you work from a company office: Bring in items from home that are a certain color that inspire you and keep you focused. Use postcards, magazine cutouts, even just blocks of color will do.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, you have much more control over the colors around you. Consider repainting a wall, adding color to the table you work at, or hanging pictures that are dominated by a specific color.

Room Temperature

Most offices keep their temperatures around 65-68 Fahrenheit but it turns out that this might not be good for productivity. Warmer rooms actually make people more productive.

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If you work from a company office: Most offices are regulated by somebody else, so bring a space heater, sweaters and blankets to your work space.

If you work from a home office: Depending on the season, open the windows or adjust the heat or a/c so that you’re more comfortable and warm. Pile on the sweaters in the winter or add a space heater to your feet.

Room Scents

Like the color of the space you work in, our sense of smell can powerfully affect our mood, mindset and thus our productivity. Consider adding scents to your work space to jar your mind into focus when you start to notice yourself drifting off.

Try using these scents to stay focused:

  • Pine – Increases alertness
  • Cinnamon – Improves focus
  • Lavender – Helps to relax you during a stressful work day
  • Peppermint – Lifts your mood
  • Citrus (any) – Wakes you up  and lifts your spirits

If you work from a company office: Most people will not appreciate added scents to their work environment so you’ll need to keep it subtle. Keep essential oils in your bag or drawer and when you’re in need of a boost put a few drops on a handkerchief or cotton ball.

If you work from a home office: Use candles, incense or essential oils. You can also simmer herbs and spices in the kitchen to fill your home with a warm scent.

Noise Level

The noise level in a work environment can vary greatly depending on the size of the team you work with, the office design and company culture. But make no mistake, the noise around you affects your ability to stay on task. Not only can it be distracting, it can also raise stress levels making your ability to sustain productivity far more difficult.

If you work from a company office: Bring in noise cancellation headphones and use music services like Spotify or Songza and choose concentration boosting sounds, like white noise.  Find out if your office offers quiet work spaces for times when you need the utmost focus.

If you work from a home office: Sometimes the complete quiet can be as distracting as an office. Use a service like Coffivity to mimic the noise of a coffee shop, which has been said to help with concentration.

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Air Quality

Air quality can drastically affect our ability to focus and think clearly. Get this: OSHA estimates that the total annual cost of poor air quality in office environments costs employers $15 billion “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave.” Yeah, it’s serious business.

If you work from a company office: Talk to them about installing air filters. If there is a way to bring in fresh air through windows or doors, arrange to have them opened for at least a portion of the day. If nothing else, get a personal air filter to have on your desk or nearby.

Also, get a plant (or better yet, have the company buy and use more plants in the office!). Plants are great at filtering the air and providing clean, purified oxygen.

If you work from a home office: Open windows and doors and let in the fresh air. Install an air filter or get a portable air filter to keep near your desk. And, yes, you too should get a plant.

Different Spaces

If you can manage it, give yourself more than one space to work from. Putting yourself in a new space with different qualities and things to look at quite literally shifts your brain and helps you stay focused.

If you work from a company office: Many offices offer a variety of environments to work from: your personal space, lobbies, break out rooms, conference rooms, kitchens and eating areas and, if you’re lucky, they also provide lounge areas. Use all these spaces to vary your routine. Make sure your supervisor knows so they don’t think you’re slacking off and know tat you’re actually getting more done!

If you work from a home office: If you work at a desk, add a comfortable couch or chair to the room. If your space is less flexible or ultra tiny, think about more creative ways to change your work space. Rotate the pictures on your walls every couple of days. Sit on the other side of your desk. Get a lamp and multiple colored bulbs. Or go work at a café, the library or in a park.

Organization of People

Most employers organize employees around job function or in specific divisions. Instead, studies show that people are more creative and productive when they are sitting with colleagues that share the same goal or client. Not only are you able to get answers and generate solutions quicker, but because you’re directly accountable to the people around you, you’re more likely to stay on task and productive.

If you work from a company office: Ask your employer if you can experiment by clustering your group together in a conference room for a day or a week. Get feedback from everybody involved. Show the results. If your company won’t make permanent adjustments, perhaps they’ll allow you to work together a couple times a week when the conference room or lounge area is free.

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If you work from a home office: This is a little bit more difficult because when you work at home you’re not with colleagues. You can recreate a similar space digitally, however. Create a Skype group and have everyone logged in during working hours. You can do morning accountability and check-ins while remaining available for questions, solution-finding and general banter that promotes creativity.

Idea Storage

Ever been working hard when you’re suddenly distracted by a great idea? At first you try to push it away, but then the next thing you know you’re 20 pages deep into an online search on the topic. Ideas should be encouraged and cultivated, but when they come right in the middle of another task it can be incredibly distracting. Instead, create a place to store your ideas that’s easily accessed from your work space.

For both a company and home office: Keep pads of paper around, have a chalk wall, get a white board – when you have a spark of inspiration write it down right away to get it out of your head then return to the task at hand. Then, at the end of the day or when you have free time, collect all the ideas and review them. With a little time and space you can better decide if it’s worth pursuing or better to leave it on the back-burner.

Refreshment

Our brain needs nourishment to keep going, especially when we’re driving hard and staying focused. You can let a rumbling stomach go on for only so long before the brain shuts down. Assuming your different is like wanting your car to keep driving without having to stop and fill it with gas. A novel idea, but not realistic.

If you work from a company office: Pre-make snacks for the day and/or week. Or, bring in prepackaged snacks. Keep in mind that junk food has properties of diminishing returns so if you’re buying your food prepackaged think nuts, fruit, unsweetened yogurts, and hummus and crackers. Likely, your company provides coffee, tea and water so you don’t have to worry about supplying that for yourself.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, this can be a key distraction. Try to reduce the number of times you walk into the kitchen each day. To do this, keep quick and   easy snacks pre-made or prepackaged ready and near your desk. Keep a water bottle nearby. And consider bringing a kettle into your office and stocking tea and coffee so you’re   not tempted to wander around the house and lose time poking through the pantry.

Bring in Nature

We are biological creatures, first and foremost. So we are deeply affected by our access to (or lack of) the natural world. It’s important for our psychological and physiological functioning, which directly affects our ability to be productive.

If you work from a company office: If you don’t have windows in or near your work space, bring in pictures of the outdoor world. Keep a picture of something natural as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks outdoors at lunch or in between major tasks. Just a few minutes outside in the fresh air and sunshine can boost our mood and shake out the doldrums. Be sure to add a plant to your desk, too!

If you work from a home office: Keep the shades open and, if you can, let in fresh air. If you can’t see anything natural out of your window, keep pictures of the natural world as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks. Or, just step outside and put your feet on the ground. Put plants in your office – research shows that having live plants in your office makes you more productive, happier and less stressed.

Digital Space

For most people, our primary work is housed within our laptops and our physical environment simply the backdrop to our digital lives. Make sure your computer has software that helps you sculpt the digital environment that best elicits productivity. Use focus apps like this one or this to decrease distractions. Or design your day using intervals with an app like this one to keep you at your peak focus throughout the day.

Featured photo credit: Phil Desforges via unsplash.com

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