30 Inspiring Leadership Quotes
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It's been said that a company's greatest asset is its people. This may be true, but it takes a great leader to guide those people — and therefore the business — to success. Whether they led a company or a country, history's best leaders understood the importance of providing the motivation and direction to achieve larger goals. Here are 30 inspiring quotes about leaders and leadership from famous figures and experts on the subject.

Who a leader is

1. "A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see and who sees before others see." – Leroy Eimes, author and leadership expert

2. "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, former first lady

3. "Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be." – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, poet and philosopher

4. "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

5. "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." – William Arthur Ward, author

6. "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." – President John Quincy Adams

7. "As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others." – Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft

8. "In the simplest terms, a leader is one who knows where he wants to go, and gets up and goes." – John Erskine, author

9. "The leaders who offer blood, toil, tears and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic." – George Orwell, author

10. "A leader is a dealer in hope." – Napoleon Bonaparte

What a leader does

11. "Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others." – Jack Welch, former GE chairman and CEO

12. "Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without the strategy." – U.S. General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

13. "People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives." – President Theodore Roosevelt

14. "Leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it." – John Naisbitt, author

15. "Leadership is the capacity to transform vision into reality." – Warren G. Bennis, founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California

16. "To lead people, walk beside them. As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence ... When the best leader's work is done, the people say, 'We did it ourselves!'" – Lao Tsu, Chinese philosopher 

17. "A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit." – Arnold Glasow, humorist and author

18. "The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on." – Walter Lippmann, writer, reporter and political commentator

19. "The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been." – former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

20. "The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there." – John Buchan, novelist, historian and politician

What leaders need to know

21. "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." – General George S. Patton

22. "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 humor, but without folly." – Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker

23. "Those who try to lead the people can only do so by following the mob." – Oscar Wilde, writer and poet

24. "The led must not be compelled. They must be able to choose their own leader." – Albert Einstein, physicist

25. "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." – President Harry Truman

26. "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." – Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple

27. "If you think you are leading and turn around to see no one following, then you are just taking a walk." – Benjamin Hooks, retired director of the NAACP

28. "You cannot be a leader, and ask other people to follow you, unless you know how to follow, too." – Sam Rayburn, former speaker of the house

29. "You do not lead by hitting people over the head. That's assault, not leadership." – President Dwight D. Eisenhower

30. "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." – President Abraham Lincoln

Originally published June 5, 2012. Updated Nov. 19, 2014.