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Published on March 6, 2019

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 March 15, 2019

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

What Makes a Leader Fail?

A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

What Is Effective Leadership?

Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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“… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

1. Courage

The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

4. Likability

Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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5. Vulnerability

Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

6. Authenticity

Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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“A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

9. A Passion for Continual Learning

Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

The Bottom Line

No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

More Resources About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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