Looking for inspirational leadership quotes? Look no further!
This list is packed with leadership quotes for work, regardless of your industry.
We'll talk about some professional lessons we can take from these inspiring quotes on leadership.
So, why does good leadership matter? We all have memories of someone leading us in the past, be it a manager, boss, or mentor.
In fact, a great leader can inspire us to do wonderful things!
Check out these great leadership quotes for inspiration.
20 Inspirational Leadership Quotes for Work
1. Jack Welch
Jack Welch was an American business executive. He was the chairman and CEO of General Electric until 2001.
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch (Source: BrainyQuote)
Leadership is a complicated subject. You have to have that foundational knowledge. It would be odd to lead in an industry where you're a beginner, because others will look to you.
That said, learning is a lifelong process, and it should be for leaders too. Think of yourself and your team as two parts of your professional life that should continually grow.
2. Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek is a motivational speaker, author, and CEO of The Optimism Company, a digital learning platform.
"Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those in your charge." - Simon Sinek (Source: Ventured)
Many of us have a story of a manager or boss that made us feel less than. Leadership is not about bossing people around. It really is about taking care of those in your charge.
3. Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg is a business woman and former COO of Meta Platforms (formally Facebook Inc).
"Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence." - Sheryl Sandberg (Source: Time)
This is a great example of inspirational leadership quotes.
As a leader, your work has the potential to leave a lasting impact, far beyond your time as a leader. That's excellent evidence of a job well done.
Working from this perspective is a great way to think about your role as a leader.
4. Ray Kroc
Ray Kroc was an American business man, who is credited with the global expansion of the McDonald's brand.
"The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves." - Ray Kroc (Source: BrainyQuote)
It's true, isn't it? A leader's standards for themselves and their own work is a great reflection of their business practices, principles, and ethics.
As a leader, hold yourself to the same standards you expect—that shouldn't be out of balance.
5. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is a talk show host, actress, producer, and executive, internationally known for her presence in media.
"Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts ... good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt." - Oprah Winfrey (Source: Evoke)
Being a leader is also about preserving and nurturing your team, its atmosphere, and its work culture. Work relationships are important, and everyone on your team should feel safe and comfortable.
As a leader, you should uphold, enforce, and embody those standards of professional practice and courtesy—and when you see someone acting to the contrary, your actions on the matter speak volumes.
6. Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt was an activist and diplomat, serving as the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945.
"To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart." - Eleanor Roosevelt (Source: TeachDifferent)
Empathy is an essential leadership skill. People are just that: people. They all have lives, they all have stories, and they all come together to form your team. It's often important to approach business and professional situations with empathy. Think about it: we all want to be treated like people, not like numbers or assets.
7. Henry Ford
Henry Ford was a business man and industrialist who founded the Ford Motor Company.
"Don't find fault, find a remedy." - Henry Ford (Source: BrainyQuote)
Imagine this scenario: something goes wrong on the job. I think most of us would feel a range of emotions like fear or even shame if we were blamed for something like that. Pointing fingers doesn't really do much to find a solution, now does it?
A great leader finds those solutions and understands that mistakes are a part of learning.
8. Seth Godin
Seth Godin is an author, former business executive, and entrepreneur.
"Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work." - Seth Godin (Source: AllAuthor)
If you have a great idea, but you have no space to communicate it, that idea is pretty much lost. Innovation is all about ideas.
Good leadership is also about listening to your team. They could have valuable insights and ideas that could take your projects even further.
9. Grace Hopper
Grace Hopper was a United States Navy admiral and mathematician. She was a pioneer of computer programming.
"You manage things; you lead people." - Grace Hopper (Source: Forbes)
This is one of the best leadership quotes, right? Things and people are not the same.
Treating people like "things" isn't going to give you a team that is successful, let alone productive or happy.
10. Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was an inventor, investor, business man, and CEO of Apple.
"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." - Steve Jobs (Source: Inc)
Here's one of the more interesting quotes about leadership in this list. Innovation is a big deal. It's how things change. Only following is inherently not what leadership is about.
Playing things too safe can lead to a stagnant place. However, acting haphazardly can put things at risk.
11. Lou Holtz
Lou Holtz is a former American football player, coach, and sports analyst.
"It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it." - Lou Holtz (Source: Brainy Quote)
Isn't that the truth? We've all likely felt overwhelmed and over burdened before. That's not how a good team works. That load should be carried in a way where everyone feels empowered and supported.
A good leader knows this balance and puts it into practice.
12. Ken Kesey
Ken Kesey was an author and essayist who wrote a number of provoking novels.
"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 (Source: QuoteFancy)
This is another one of the most interesting and inspiring quotes on leadership in this list. It's easy to tell others what to do. "Going to that place and making a case" is a convincing perspective. It's an inspiring perspective too!
Instead of telling someone "this idea is great", it's so much more impactful and inspiring to show them.
13. Brené Brown
Brené Brown is an author and professor who has extensively spoken on and researched leadership, vulnerability, and empathy.
“Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” - Brené Brown (Source: The CEO Magazine)
Here's another example of great leadership quotes that might just hit close to home. Have you ever received instructions that were unclear? It can make even a simple task feel really intimidating or even frustrating.
A good leader is clear and doesn't put the burden of instructions or "figuring it out" on his/her/their team.
14. Arianna Huffington
Arianna Huffington is an author, columnist and business woman who co-founded The Huffington Post and founded Thrive Global.
“It’s our collective delusion that overwork and burnout are the price we must pay in order to succeed.” - Arianna Huffington (Source: Silk and Sonder)
Overwork and burnout are things a lot of us know first hand. It doesn't make for a great work environment and it certainly hurts productivity.
If you're leading a team, it's essential to understand the importance of work life balance. Not only that, but distributing work in a way that is sustainable for everyone is essential.
15. Jim Rohn
Jim Rohn was a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and author. His speeches are still well known and listened to today.
"The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully." - Jim Rohn (Source: Success)
Here's one of the best leadership quotes when it comes to balance. Isn't it the truth? It's so important to be strong, but there is no need to be rude.
Kindness is such an essential when working with others, but there still needs to be boundaries that shouldn't be crossed.
Fortune often favors the bold, but bullying is definitely not what any leader should embrace.
16. John Maxwell
John Maxwell is an author and speaker with an extensive library of works on leadership to his name.
“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” — John Maxwell (Source: Sources of Insight)
When it comes to quotes on leadership, this one gives us so much food for thought. It's true through, isn't it? Rather than focusing on a personal or emotional response to a situation, a leader adjusts and responds.
17. Vidal Sassoon
Vidal Sassoon is a hairstylist, philanthropist, and business person, also known for their line of hair care products.
"The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary." - Vidal Sassoon (Source: Reflect and Respond)
This is one of the cheekier quotes about leadership in this list, but it still holds true. It's easy to talk about leadership and strategy, but at the end of the day, it's about getting in there and putting in the hard work.
Get in there and start leading—learn, educate yourself, respond, and adapt. That experience is what will lead to success and growth.
18. Marissa Mayer
Marissa Mayer is a business executive, co-founder, and business person who has worked with companies such as Yahoo! and Google.
"I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that's how you grow." - Marissa Mayer (Source: Entrepreneur)
This quote expands on what we just discussed. It's impossible to be a perfect leader, just as it's impossible to have all the answers. Sometimes, it's about jumping in and experiencing the process. Yes, you should be knowledgable and have experience to rely on, but at the same time, professional experience is vital. Arm yourself to succeed, but also know that you will continually need to learn and grow along the way.
19. Richard Branson
Richard Branson is a business man and commercial astronaut who founded the Virgin Group.
"Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again." - Richard Branson (Source: BrainyQuote)
Again, expanding on this idea, failure is a part of life, whether it's personal or professional. What we do with our mistakes can really shape our future. This applies on a persona level, within a team setting, and as a leader. Those failures can be vital learning experiences. Embracing this as a leader can also help empower your team to learn and grow.
20. John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States.
"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." - John F. Kennedy (Source: BrainyQuote)
It's easy to lead when times are good. When times are tough, however, things are far more challenging. This is often when our perspective and our leadership skills are most put to the test. Learning and adapting are such an important part of being a good leader.
More on Leadership and Business Skills
Looking for more great leadership quotes? You can find some of the best leadership quotes, business quotes, and inspiring quotes for your workplace right here, at Envato Tuts+.
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- How to Build Routines That Keep Your Life and Work on TrackAnnie Mueller27 Aug 2023
Which Inspiring Quotes on Leadership Were Your Favorites?
These quotes about leadership all have something special in common: being a leader is about your team.
We see this in the best leadership quotes. Leading a team is not about one's self. It's about guidance, empathy, and direction.
How will you incorporate these quotes on leadership in your own professional life? Good luck with your own leadership journey!