Top 168 Business Leadership Quotes [Amazing Quotes Business About Leadership]

There are many notions about what it is like to be a leader and it is hardly particularly strange when you think about it. In reality, there are as many leadership styles as there are leaders. How often do you think about your own, or how much do you dream of once becoming a boss?

The notion of the difference between leaders and managers is usually that a manager is someone who decides and makes demands, while a leader is someone who leads the way and supports. But the description does not always have to be so negative. Leadership can rather be another type of leadership, one that suits different organizations.

There is no other business role that is as reviewed and written about as the leader’s. And the reason for that is the direct and actual impact of leadership on the well-being and results of the business.

Today, leadership has in many ways developed for the better for everyone involved. Today we are talking about collaborating, partnership, coexisting and co-creating. And today we know that leaders’ impact on the outcome is significant.

The qualities that have become increasingly in demand over the last ten years include the ability to be present, self-awareness, emotional intelligence, unpretentiousness, self-leadership, a coaching attitude, agile skills, facilitation, empathy, humility and wisdom. All relatively new in-demand skills and abilities for an assignment that is often unappreciated.

Below, we take a look at the top quotes about business leadership from some of the most influential and successful leaders in the world. These quotes can be inspiring but more importantly extremely valuable for understanding how the top leaders resonate so you can learn a thing or two on how to improve your leadership skills.


Best business leadership quotes


1. “You must be very patient, very persistent. The world isn’t going to shower gold coins on you just because you have a good idea. You’re going to have to work like crazy to bring that idea to the attention of people.”

-Herb Kelleher


2. “Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you can imagine it.”

– George Lucas


3. “Power should be reserved for weightlifting and boats, and leadership really involves responsibility.”

-Herb Kelleher


4. “When you have vision it affects your attitude. Your attitude is optimistic rather than pessimistic.”

– Charles R. Swindoll


5. “Your employees come first. And if you treat your employees right, guess what? Your customers come back, and that makes your shareholders happy. Start with employees and the rest follows from that.”

-Herb Kelleher


6. “It’s not what the vision is, it’s what the vision does.”

– Peter Senge


7. “If we win the hearts and minds of employees, we’re going to have better business success.”

-Mary Barra


8. “What I always say is, ‘Do every job you’re in like you’re going to do it for the rest of your life, and demonstrate that ownership of it.”

-Mary Barra


9. “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

-Warren Buffett


10. “I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.”

-Warren Buffett


11. “The very essence of leadership is [that] you have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”

– Theodore Hesburgh


12. “The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.”

-Warren Buffett


13. “To be a CEO is a calling. You should not do it because it is a job. It is a calling, and you have got to be involved in it with your head, heart, and hands. Your heart has got to be in the job; you got to love what you do; it consumes you. And if you are not willing to get into the CEO job that way, there is no point getting into it.”

-Indra Nooyi


14. “One of the things that may get in the way of people being lifelong learners is that they’re not in touch with their passion. If you’re passionate about what it is you do, then you’re going to be looking for everything you can to get better at it.”

– Jack Canfield


15. “Purpose may point you in the right direction but it’s passion that propels you.”

– Travis McAshan


16. “One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognise a problem before it becomes an emergency.”

– Arnold Glasow


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

– Harold R. McAlindon


18. “Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.”

– Mary Kay Ash


19. “Telling people not what they want to hear but what they need to hear is a key element of being able to lead.”

– John Smith


20. “Example is not the main thing in influencing others; it is the only thing.”

– Albert Schweitzer


21. “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.”

– Ken Kesey


22. “I don’t think just trying to maximise profits is a very good long-term strategy for a business. It doesn’t inspire the people who work for you.”

– John Mackey


23. “High expectations are the key to absolutely everything.”

– Sam Walton


24. “A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.”

– Simon Sinek


25. “A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.”

– David Gergen


26. “You know, as most entrepreneurs do, that a company is only as good as its people. The hard part is actually building the team that will embody your company culture and proper you forward.”

– Kathryn Minshew


27. “People want guidance, not rhetoric; they need to know what the plan of action is and how it will be implemented. They want to be given responsibility to help solve the problem and the authority to act on it.”

– Howard Schultz


28. “You cannot have faith in people unless you take action to improve and develop them.”

– Sumatra Ghoshal


29. “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.”

– John Buchan


30. “The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.”

– Colin R. Davis

31. “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.”

– Reid Hoffman


32. “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or go to get all the credit for doing it.”

– Andrew Carnegie


33. “The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow.”

– Ingvar Kamprad


34. “Unless you choose to do great things with it, makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have.”

– Oprah Winfrey


35. “You shouldn’t gloat about anything you’ve done. You ought to keep going and try to find something better to do.”

– David Packard


36. “There are countless ways of achieving greatness, but any road to achieving one’s maximum potential must be built on a bedrock of respect for the individual, a commitment to excellence, and a rejection of mediocrity.”

Buck Rodgers


37. “Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.”

– Anne Sweeney


38. ”I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.”

– Estée Lauder


39. “Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work.”

– Vinnie Rege


40. “What I’ve learned is that if you really want to be successful at something, you’ll find that you put the time in. You won’t just ask somebody if it’s a good idea, you’ll go figure out if it’s a good idea.”

– Mark Cuban


41. “There’s no scientific answer for success. You can’t define it. You’ve simply got to live and do it.”

– Anita Roddick


42. “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody.”

– Herbert Swope


43. “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.”

– Jim Rohn


44. “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

– Vidal Sassoon


45. “You have to be very nimble and very open minded. Your success is going to be very dependent on how you adapt”

– Jeremy Stoppelman


46. “Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself – your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers.”

– Dee Hock


47. “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude: be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humour, but without folly.”

-Jim Rohn


48. “Ninety percent of leadership is the ability to communicate something people want.”

– Dianne Feinstein


49. “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

– Stephen R. Covey


50. “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else is the essence of leadership.”

– John Kenneth Galbraith


51. “Nothing stops an organisation faster than people who believe that the way you worked yesterday is the best way to work tomorrow.”

-Jon Madonna


52. “Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.”

– Kenichi Ohmae


53. “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.”

– Drew Houston


54. “Fail often so you can succeed sooner.”

– Tom Kelley


55. “I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.”

– John D. Rockefeller


56. “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

– Tony Robbins


57. “You don’t concentrate on risks. You concentrate on results. No risk is too great to prevent the necessary job from getting done.”

– Chuck Yeager


58. “The things we fear most in organisations – fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances – are the primary sources of creativity.”

– Margaret Wheatley


59. “It takes humility to realise that we don’t know everything, not to rest on our laurels, and to know that we must keep learning and observing. If we don’t, we can be sure some startup will be there to take our place.”

– Cher Wang


60. “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”

– John D. Rockefeller


61. “Those who let things happen usually lose to those who make things happen.”

– Dave Weinbaum


62. “If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.”

– Robert Fritz


63. “Success is 99 percent failure.”

– Soichiro Honda


64. “Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”

– Coco Chanel


65. “A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.”

– John Burroughs


66. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

– Thomas A. Edison


67. “Even when you go after a more ambitious goal, even if you fail to achieve that one, all the side effects that come along the way can be that much more rewarding and significant in their own right.”

– Sergey Brin


68. “All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.”

– Michael John Bobak


69. “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

– Jack Welch


70. “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”

Sheryl Sandberg


71. “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”

– Harvey S. Firestone


72. “Having a personality of caring about people is important. You can’t be a good leader unless you generally like people. That is how you bring out the best in them.”

– Sir Richard Branson


73. “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”

– Zig Ziglar


74. ”There is a hero in all of us. What you need is a leader to make people realise that they don’t have to be less than ordinary, that they can be more than ordinary.”

– Christo Wiese


74. “Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.”

-Seth Godin


75. “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

-Bill Gates


76. “Leaders don’t inflict pain, they share pain.”

-Max de Pree


77. “A leader is a person you will follow to a place you would not go by yourself.”

-Joel Barker


78. “Just because you are a CEO, don’t think you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach the organization. I’ve never forgotten that.”

-Indra Nooyi


79. “If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.”

-Mario Andretti


80. “There is a difference between being a leader and being a boss. Both are based on authority. A boss demands blind obedience; a leader earns his authority through understanding and trust.”

-Klaus Balkenhol


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

-Theodore Roosevelt


82. “A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspired the power and energy to get it done.”

-Ralph Lauren


83. “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”

-Ronald Reagan


84. “Do you know that one of the great problems of our age is that we are governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas?”

-Margaret Thatcher


85. “The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.”

-John Scully


86. “A vision we give to others of who and what they could become has power when it echoes what the spirit has already spoken into their souls.”

-Larry Crabb


87. “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.”

-Farrah Gray


88. “Too many companies believe people are interchangeable. Truly gifted people never are. They have unique talents. Such people cannot be forced into roles they are not suited for, nor should they be. Effective leaders allow great people to do the work they were born to do.”

-Warren G. Bennis


89. “Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.”

-Winston Churchill


90. “Hire character. Train skill.”

-Peter Schutz


91. “Leadership should be more participative than directive, more enabling than performing.”

-Mary D. Poole


92. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

-Margaret Mead


93. “Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

-Steve Jobs


94. “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.”

-Steve Jobs


95. “There are two kinds of stones, as everyone knows, one of which rolls.”

-Amelia Earhart


96. “Leadership is a series of behaviors rather than a role for heroes.”

-Margaret Wheatley


97. “The secret of a leader lies in the tests he has faced over the whole course of his life and the habit of action he develops in meeting those tests.”

-Gail Sheehy


98. “I try not to make any decisions that I’m not excited about.”

-Jake Nickell


99. “You have to look at leadership through the eyes of the followers and you have to live the message. What I have learned is that people become motivated when you guide them to the source of their own power and when you make heroes out of employees who personify what you want to see in the organization.”

-Anita Roddick


100. “If you think you are leading and turn around to see no one following, then you are just taking a walk.”

-Benjamin Hooks


101. “’Restore connection’ is not just for devices, it is for people too. If we cannot disconnect, we cannot lead. Creating the culture of burnout is opposite to creating a culture of sustainable creativity. This is something that needs to be taught in business schools. This mentality needs to be introduced as a leadership and performance-enhancing tool.”

-Arianna Huffington


102. “The distance between number one and number two is always a constant. If you want to improve the organisation, you have to improve yourself and the organisation gets pulled up with you. That is a big lesson.”

-Indra Nooyi


103. “Great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather by the presence of clear strengths.”

-John Zenger


104. “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

-Jack Welch


105. “I was never the smartest guy in the room. From the first person I hired, I was never the smartest guy in the room. And that’s a big deal. And if you’re going to be a leader – if you’re a leader and you’re the smartest guy in the world – in the room, you’ve got real problems.”

-Jack Welch


106. “Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire to raise their own bar.”

-Orrin Woodward


107. “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”

-George S. Patton Jr.


108. “Leaders are not, as we are often led to think, people who go along with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see, whether anyone is following them. “Leadership qualities” are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them. They include, at the very least, courage, endurance, patience, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness, stubbornness, a keen sense of reality, and the ability to keep a cool and clear head, even when things are going badly. True leaders, in short, do not make people into followers, but into other leaders.”

-John Holt


109. “Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.”

-Warren Bennis


110. “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.”

-Norman Schwarzkopf


111. “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

-John F. Kennedy


112. “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

-Peter Drucker


113. “A leader is a dealer in hope.”

-Napoleon Bonaparte


114. “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


115. “Leadership and culture aren’t about being the boss or being in control; they are about creating shared visions and goals, and then inspiring, empowering and influencing others to achieve more than they ever thought possible.”

-Gary Brooks


116. “Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.”

-Tony Hsieh


117. “If you can’t swallow your pride, you can’t lead. Even the highest mountain had animals that step on it.”

-Jack Weatherford


118. “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.”

-Peter F. Drucker


119. “Real leaders are ordinary people with extraordinary determinations.”

-John Seaman Garns


120. “Successful leaders see the opportunities in every difficulty rather than the difficulty in every opportunity”

-Reed Markham


121. “The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.”

-Seth Godin


122. “You cannot be a leader, and ask other people to follow you, unless you know how to follow, too.”

-Sam Rayburn


123. “Contrary to popular opinion, leadership is not a reserved position for a particular group of people who were elected or appointed, ordained or enthroned. Leadership is self-made, self-retained, self-inculcated and then exposed through a faithful, sincere and exemplary life.”

-Israelmore Avivor’


124. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

-Mahatma Gandhi


125. “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”

-Sam Walton


126. “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.”

-Ray Kroc


127. “If a rhinoceros were to enter this restaurant now, there is no denying he would have great power here. But I should be the first to rise and assure him that he had no authority whatever.”

-G.K. Chesterton


128. “Great leadership is about human experiences. It’s 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


129. “There exist limitless opportunities in every industry. Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.”

-Charles F. Kettering


130. “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”

-Ralph Nader


131. “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”

-John Maxwell


132. “Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.”

-Robert Jarvik


133. “A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”

– John C. Maxwell


134. “A man is only a leader when a follower stands beside him.”

-Mark Brouwer


135. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

-Solomon in Proverbs 29:18


136. “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.”

-Colin Powell


137. “Leaders get out in front and stay there by raising the standards by which they judge themselves – and by which they are willing to be judged.”

-Frederick W. Smith


138. “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 high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”

-Peter F. Drucker


139. “Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.”

-Thomas J. Watson


140. “What you do has far greater impact that what you say.”

– Stephen Covey


141. “The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow a weak trumpet.”

-Theodore Hesburgh


142. “A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.”

-Max Lucado


143. “The only safe ship in a storm is leadership.”

-Faye Wattleton


144. “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.”

-Kenneth H. Blanchard


145. “Leaders live by choice, not by accident.”

-Mark Gorman


146. “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.”

-Max dePree


147. “Leadership is an action, not a position.”

-Donald McGannon


148. “The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.”

-Tony Blair


149. “The challenge of leadership is to be strong but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly”

-Jime Rohn


150. “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt


151. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr.


152. “If the leader is filled with high ambition and if he pursues his aims with audacity and strength of will, he will reach them in spite of all obstacles.”

-Carl von Clausewitz


153. “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

-Colin Powell


154. “Whether you think you can or you can’t; you’re right.”

-Henry Ford


155. “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


156. “Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.”

-Tom Peters


157. “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

-Winston Churchill


158. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

-John Quincy Adams


159. “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

-Dwight D. Eisenhower


160. “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt


161. “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”

-John C. Maxwell


162. “Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.”

-Margaret Thatcher


163. “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


164. “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”

-Sara Blakely


165. “Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.”

-Brian Tracy


166. “Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.”

-Brian Tracy


167. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

– Steve Jobs


168. “We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist.”

-Queen Victoria


 

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