Being a leader means different things to different people. We all have our own thoughts on what good leadership entails. Some say it comes with what title one is vested with in the hierarchy of a company, some say it is about seniority while some firmly believe it is attributes like confidence, charisma and power that make up a good leader. But would we get a great leader even if we put all these qualities into one person? No, not necessarily. There is no one definition of great leadership and who a great leader is, so here are some of our favorite top leadership quotes by some of the world’s greatest leaders themselves to help us understand what leadership is (and isn’t) better.
Top Leadership Quotes #1:
Being a leader does not mean brute force, a sheer show of muscles (even metaphorically):
I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Top Leadership Quotes #2:
No matter what your position on the hierarchy is, whether you have the responsibility of leading a team or whether you are to be led, you are the CEO of You, Inc. Leadership starts with leading yourself first.
A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent ~ Douglas MacArthur
Top Leadership Quotes #3:
Because with great power, comes great responsibility.
Power isn’t control at all – power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others that they may have the strength to stand on their own ~ Beth Revis
Top Leadership Quotes #4:
Leadership may be a paradox, but it is a paradox worth understanding and practicing:
I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men ~ Lao Tzu
Top Leadership Quotes #5:
A great leader does not “lead”, (s)he empowers and enables. A critical attribute for being a great leader is to have 0% Hubris and 100% Humility:
In my experience, leadership is about three things: To listen, to inspire and to empower. Over the years, I’ve tried to learn to do a much better job listening actively, making sure I really understand the other person’s point of view, learning from them, and using that basis of trust and collaboration to inspire and empower. [It’s about] setting the bar high, and then giving them the time and resources to do great work ~ Larry Garfield
And to conclude the post, here is a bonus quote to sign off with, by Dan Shoenbaun that sums up our views on leadership very well. Even if you are a leader, be aware of your weaknesses, as you are of your strengths – “I define leadership as knowing when to be in front to lead and guide a team during the journey, and when to step back and let others take the lead. Much like an athlete who knows exactly what position to move to on the field at any given time, a true business leader understands the delicate balance of how to help others become leaders, fuel career ambitions, then give them the chance to shine.”