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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