We’re all leaders — or have the potential to be. A leader is someone who lives with integrity, thereby impacting and inspiring others.
A leader’s character and principles are felt in both their presence and their actions. Actions and words are the instruments of their influence. Consistent action builds trust and incites loyalty. Words have the power to inspire, motivate, and even transform.
Here are some of the best quotes to remind you of principles and traits upon which leaders depend.
1. Leadership is based on a foundation of purpose.
“However brilliant an action may be, it should not be accounted great when it is not the result of a great purpose.” François de la Rochefoucauld
Vision, purpose, and meaning are what drive great results. Leaders form their results on the foundation of these. It is purpose, more than specific characteristics, that drive results.
2. Love is a leadership skill.
“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Leading with compassion is akin to using a secret power. Compassion enhances empathy, communication, and overall team effectiveness. Strategy, plans, action are all required for results; while love and compassion are the essence of human connection. They are what drive successful teamwork. (And it’s a good idea to include a bit of compassion for ourselves.)
3. Conquer anxiety and doubt through action.
“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” Vincent Van Gogh
Anxiety and doubt can feel crippling — if you allow it. Leaders don’t have it all figured out. They just take action on their vision and plans. Action is the antidote to fear and anxiety. Look what Van Gogh accomplished with it!
4. Dreaming about a goal doesn’t make it happen. It takes effort.
“Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda
You’ll never know if something is possible until you start working towards it. Accountability is a basic principle and character trait of leadership. Results require following through — on words, actions, commitments. That’s integrity. That’s leadership.
5. Who said you can’t do something? Claim your power!
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Alice Walker
Determination and grit come from within. Leadership is a combination of mental mastery and strategic action. Dig deep when doubts start to threaten progress and claim your power. This includes honesty. If you don’t have the knowledge, aptitude, or skills, admit it. Either learn them or figure out a way to partner with someone who does.
6. Leaders are focused on the end vision, rather than personal gain.
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Albert Einstein
Leaders consider the overall outcome for the greater good rather than their personal gain, or that of any one individual. It requires wisdom and emotional intelligence to be a successful leader, rather than merely accomplish goals.
7. Leaders depend upon vision.
“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” Jack Welch
Vision is the organizing principle of a leader’s success. It applies in business and in life overall. You have to know where you’re going, why, and how to get there.
8. A leader’s character is trustworthy.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Warren Buffett
Trust is the result of consistent integrity. Integrity is formed by being consistent in thoughts, words, and deeds. It can’t be faked. Live your values and do what you say you will do.
9. Leaders are successful by engaging their team fully through transparency.
“We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk.” Thomas Moore
The building blocks of trust include honesty. Hiding information or withholding key details fosters uncertainty — the opposite of the assurance a leader needs in their team. Dare to connect fully. Great leaders do!
10. Fear is a natural emotion. Overcoming it is a choice you can make.
“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” Sir Edmund Hillary
We are our own biggest enemy. Emotions are signposts. We can choose our behavior and reaction to them. They do not have to control us or the outcome of our dreams and goals. Leaders know this. They respond to their emotions and choose their reactions.
11. Creativity and innovation are traits of a leader.
“Sometimes we complain, but there is something beautiful about waking up before everyone to get better at what we love.” Missy Franklin
Take the opportunity to seize what is unique in what you are striving for, or what can be improved. Turn mediocre to greatness — or failure to success.
12. Leaders influence and motivate, not dictate.
“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” George C. Patton
Don’t insult your team and others by assuming they don’t know what to do or how to do it. Empower them to accomplish what is needed. Then stand back, ready to learn from them and be inspired by them. They are leaders, too.
13. Focus and perseverance is essential to accomplishment. So is knowing when to change direction.
“If we have very strong beliefs about something, evidence to the contrary could be sitting right in front of us but we may not see it because what we perceive is entirely different.” Joe Dispenza
There is no question it takes determination and focus to accomplish a goal. Often a single-minded dedication to an objective is needed. However, leaders understand that greatness is found in also knowing when to change direction in order to gain greater growth and advantage.
14. Leadership begins within.
“How we lead ourselves in life impacts how we lead those around us.” Michael Hyatt
Influencing, motivating, and inspiring others requires leading oneself first. We can’t lead others if our own skills don’t support the vision, strategy, and action plan.
15. For all we know, there is so much more that we don’t — and it is greater than we can imagine.
“If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” Thomas Alva Edison
Whatever we are tasked with doing, we are capable of accomplishing far more than our current abilities. It is only by stretching our existing limits that we will discover what is possible.
“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” Marie Curie