​Leadership Sayings and Quotes

A gentle hand may lead even an elephant by a hair. 

Iranian (on leadership)

A great one must have a long heart. 

Ethiopian (on leadership)

A ruler must sometimes humor as well as command. 


An army of a thousand is easy to find but ah how difficult to find a general. 

Chinese Proverb<

Even the largest army is nothing without a good general. 

Afghan (on leadership)

Great chiefs prove their worthiness. 

Seneca Proverb

He that cannot obey, cannot command. 

Ben Franklin (1706-1790)

He who rules must fully humor as much as he commands. 

George Eliot (1819-1880)

If the townspeople are happy, look to the chief. 

Liberian (on leadership)

If you can’t serve, you can’t rule. 

Bulgarian (on leadership)

In the country of the blind, the one 

man is king. – Desiderius Erasmus (1465-1536)

Masterly retreat is in itself a victory. 

Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993)

One man can make a difference. 


Take the bull by the horns. 

North American Saying

The good will of the governed will be starved if not fed by the good deeds of the governors. 

Ben Franklin (1706-1790)

The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world. 

William Ross Wallace (1819-1881)

The higher the monkey climbs, the more he shows his tail. 

John Wycliffe (c.1320-1384) alternate source:Belizean (on leadership)

The master of the people is their servant. 

Yemeni (on leadership)

Whatever the boss says goes. 


When money speaks, truth keeps silent. 

Russian (on money)

When we think we lead, we are most led. 

Henry James Byron (1834-1884)

Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results. 

George Patton

Never give an order that can’t be obeyed. 

General Douglas MacArthur

The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things. 

Ronald Reagan

To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart. 

Eleanor Roosevelt

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. 

John Quincy Adams

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. 

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing. 

Albert Schweiter

You do not lead by hitting people over the head. That’s assault, not leadership. 

Dwight Eisenhower

Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them. 

John C. Maxwell

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it. 

Andrew Carnegie

A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd. 

Max Lucado

To lead people, walk behind them. 

Lao Tzu

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. 

Publilus Syrus

Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. 

Warren Bennis

Leadership and learning are indispensable to one another. 

John F. Kennedy

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected. 

Steve Jobs

Don’t find fault, find a remedy. 

Henry Ford

The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves. 

Ray Kroc

Lead, follow, or get out of the way. 

Thomas Pane

It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse. 

Adlai Stevenson II

Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others. 

Robert Louis Stevenson

A man can only lead when others accept him as their leader, and he has only as much authority as his subjects give to him. All of the brilliant ideas in the world cannot save your kingdom if no one will listen to them. 

Brandon Sanderson

He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader. 


If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. But do not care to convince him. Men will believe what they see. Let them see. 

Henry David Thoreau

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. 

Harold McAlindon

Learn to see things backwards, inside out, and upside down. 

John Heider

The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes. 

Tony Blair

Leadership does not always wear the harness of compromise. 

Woodrow Wilson

The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there. 

John Buchan

Do not follow where the path may lead.

Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Harold R. McAlindon

(also attributed to Emerson and others)

Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow.

Chinese Proverb

Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

There go the people.

I must follow them for I am their leader.

Alexandre Ledru-Rollin

What chance gathers she easily scatters. A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

While a good leader sustains momentum, a great leader increases it.

John C. Maxwell

A general is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him.

General Douglas MacArthur

Learn to see things backwards, inside out, and upside down.

John Heider, Tao of Leadership

Men are governed only by serving them; the rule is without exception.

V. Cousin

The real leader has no need to lead, he is content to point the way.

Henry Miller

Be known for pleasing others, espcecially if you govern them…Ruling others has one advantage: you can do more good than anyone else.

Baltasar Gracián

Go to the people. Learn from them. Live with them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. The best of leaders when the job is done, when the task is accomplished, the people will say we have done it ourselves.

Lao Tzu

A leader is a dealer in hope.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Rely on your own strength of body and soul. Take for your star self-reliance, faith, honesty and industry. Don’t take too much advice — keep at the helm and steer your own ship, and remember that the great art of commanding is to take a fair share of the work. Fire above the mark you intend to hit. Energy, invincible determination with the right motive, are the levers that move the world.

Noah Porter

There is always room for a man of force and he makes room for many. Society is a troop of thinkers and the best heads among them take the best places.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

John Quincy Adams

Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader.

George S. Patton

In governing, don’t try to control.

Tao Te Ching

The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.

Tony Blair

The people follow the example of those above them.

Chinese Proverb

He who has never learned to obey

cannot be a good commander.


Any one can hold the helm when the sea is calm.

Publilius Syrus

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.

George Patton

(from Big Dog’s Quotes)

Where there is no vision, the people perish.


Misfortunes, untoward events, lay open, disclose the skill of a general, while success conceals his weakness, his weak points.


In this world a man must either be an anvil or hammer.

Henry W. Longfellow

Leadership does not always wear the harness of compromise.

Woodrow Wilson

The greater a man is in power above others, the more he ought to excel them in virtue. None ought to govern who is not better than the governed.

Publilius Syrus

Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.

Andrew Jackson

A bold onset is half the battle.

Giuseppe Garibaldi

The power is detested, and miserable the life, of him who wishes to be feared rather than to be loved.

Cornelius Nepos

To be a great leader and so always master of the situation, one must of necessity have been a great thinker in action. An eagle was never yet hatched from a goose’s egg.

James Thomas

Ill can he rule the great that cannot reach the small.

Edmund Spenser

He who has learned how to obey will know how to command.


When I give a minister an order, I leave it to him to find the means to carry it out.

Napoleon Bonaparte

No man can stand on top because he is put there.

H. H. Vreeland

A ruler should be slow to punish and swift to reward.


It is impossible to imagine anything which better becomes a ruler than mercy.


No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.

Abraham Lincoln

What you cannot enforce / Do not command.


No general can fight his battles alone. He must depend upon his lieutenants, and his success depends upon his ability to select the right man for the right place.

Philip Armour

To do great things is difficult; but to command great things is more difficult.

Friedrich Nietzsche

It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself. (Absurdum est ut alios regat, qui seipsum regere nescit.)

Latin Proverb

Let him who would be moved to convince others, be first moved to convince himself.

Thomas Carlyle

A good general not only sees the way to victory; he also knows when victory is impossible.