One of the most telling aspects of true leadership is the ability to inspire and convey a message in just a few words. While long articles on leadership and books on how to be a leader might be helpful, it’s always a good idea to look towards some of the great leaders in human history and see what they have to say about leadership lessons in just a few short words.
Leadership Quotes from Great Leaders in History
• “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.
There is nothing to say that a good leader has to be out front; true leaders can lead from behind the scenes and don’t need the credit to justify themselves.
• “The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground.” —Sir Winston Churchill
Stand tall and look forward; be a doer, not a reactionary.
• “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
Commanding someone to do something breeds far less loyalty and conviction than convincing them that it’s the right thing to do.
• “Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” —Harry S. Truman
Be bold in your decision to take charge and never be afraid to make changes that you believe in.
• “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” —General Dwight Eisenhower
Once again, we see the power of persuasion and convincing taking precedence over commanding.
• “A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” —Max Lucado
Know your audience but when it comes down to it, concentrate on your team.
• “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” —General Colin Powell
You don’t have to be the smartest or most eloquent in the room, but you do have to command authority and be clear and concise.
• “When I give a minister an order, I leave it to him to find the means to carry it out.” —Napoleon Bonaparte
Surround yourself with people you trust and then trust them.
• “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
Be an inspiration as well as someone other aspire to be more like. Don’t just tell them, show them.
• “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy
The day you stop learning is the day you stop living, even if you’re the president of the United States.
• “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
Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks, but be sure to give credit where it is due.
• “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
Self-esteem is such a big part of inspiration and ability. It moves common men to do great things.
• “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
Once again we see the message: surround yourself with people you trust and then trust them.
• “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.”- Norman Schwarzkopf
A good strategy is important but when the chips are on the table, it’s your character and integrity that are going to pull you through.
• “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” – PubliliusSyrus
The true test of a leader is in the face of adversity, not when everything is running smoothly.
These words of wisdom are there for the leaders of today to learn from and then churn out the leaders of tomorrow.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net