17 of the Most Inspiring Quotes on Leadership in History

They'll make you laugh; they'll make you cry; they'll make you think.

Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images / Contributor
Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images / Contributor

Leadership. That ineffable quality that some people radiate. The ability to intuit what’s possible and elicit what’s needed. Vision, clarity, power.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a business owner or a family member, you are a leader somewhere in your life. And the quality of your leadership often determines the quality of your life. 

Here are a few quotes to keep you inspired to keep growing and expanding into the greatest leader you can be:

1. “Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed.” — Mwai Kibaki (Kenyan politician)

2. “A leader is best when people barely know he exists … when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will all say: We did it ourselves.” — Lao-Tzu

3. “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” — Sheryl Sandberg

4. “People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together.” — Michelle Obama

5. “You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” — Nelson Mandela

6. “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

7. “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.” — General Colin Powell

8. “A leader is a dealer in hope.” — Napoléon Bonaparte

9. “We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.” — Whoopi Goldberg

10. “Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation.” — Simon Sinek

11. “A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” — Arnold H. Glasow

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

13. “You don’t lead by hitting people over the head–that’s assault, not leadership.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

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

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

16. “I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.” — Mahatma Gandhi

17. “The world needs new leadership, but the new leadership is about working together.” — Jack Ma

Originally published on Inc.

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