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on Leading the Next Generation


My Favorite Leadership Quotes

Every year I post a list. It’s a list I think leaders like you will appreciate and benefit from. I’ve posted lists of my favorite leadership books, my favorite leadership movies and even my favorite leadership examples—and many of them are students!

Today, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite leadership quotes. After serving with John C. Maxwell for twenty years—I’ve collected a few. I still remember the very first leadership quote I wrote down when I was in my twenties: “The man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” I love it. Below are twenty invigorating statements that clarify and define the essence of leadership. Enjoy.

  1. “A leader is a person you will follow to a place you would not go by yourself.”—Joel Barker

  2. “Every time you speak, you are auditioning for leadership.” —James Humes

  3. “A leader takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.” —Arnold Glasow

  4. “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

  5. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”—Martin Luther King Jr.

  6. “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” —Margaret Fuller

  7. “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” —Warren Bennis

  8. “A leader knows the way; goes the way, then shows the way.” —John C. Maxwell

  9. “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” —Jack Welch

  10. “Earn your leadership everyday.” —Michael Jordan

  11. “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” —Abraham Lincoln

  12. “Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.” —Orrin Woodward

  13. “Leadership rises based on providing the scarcest resource.” —Anonymous

  14. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” —John Quincy Adams

  15. “A teacher affects eternity. He cannot tell where his influence stops.” —Henry Adams

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

  17. “The price of greatness is responsibility.” —Winston Churchill

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

  19. “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” —John C. Maxwell

  20. “To the world, you may just be one person. But to one person, you may just be the world.”—Anonymous

I’d love to hear some of your favorite leadership quotes. Can you jot them below?

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  1. chuck weisenbach on November 7, 2018 at 8:18 am

    Never point a finger where you did not lend a hand!

    There are some who watch it happen.
    There are some who wonder what happened.
    There are some who make it happen.

  2. Karen Crawford on November 7, 2018 at 9:43 am

    Breaking someone’s trust is like crumpling up a perfect piece of paper. You can smooth it over but it’s never going to be the same again. (Good visual)

  3. Joshua Beers on November 7, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Winners find solutions, losers make excuses. Franklin Roosevelt

    Problems are something I can do something about. If I can’t change it then it is not a problem, it’s a fact of life. John Maxwell

  4. Jason Williams on November 7, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Great leaders don’t set out to be leaders, they set out to make a difference. It’s never about the role-it’s always about the goal. – Unknown

    Leadership is action-based, not position-based. Donald McGannon

  5. Kiki C on November 8, 2018 at 11:12 pm

    “Great leaders want to develop other leaders. They’re not looking for projects. They’re looking for protégés—emerging leaders they can maximize.”

    ~Grant Skeldon, “The Passion Generation”, p. 127

  6. Stephanie on November 9, 2018 at 11:53 am

    Abraham Lincoln – “Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them.”
    “Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.” The Phantom Menace -Yoda
    Jim Elliot – “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
    C.S. Lewis: “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.”

  7. Dawn on November 9, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    CS Lewis: “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.

  8. Rose-Marie Gulley on November 14, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    We’re always leading someone even if it is only ourselves who follows.

  9. Ken Chupp on November 21, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    “Leadership is disappointing people at a rate they can tolerate.” Ron Heifetz, Harvard (Kennedy School of Public Leadership)

  10. Tia Brandel on August 15, 2019 at 8:38 am

    A leader is a dealer in hope.

    To lead is to serve.

    If you assume the position of leadership, the attitudes and emotions of others will depend entirely upon your attitude and emotions. You will always see your own attitude reflected back in the other person’s behavior.

    Coach – be bigger than the storm. Coaches should calm the storm, not add to it.

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My Favorite Leadership Quotes