This article was originally published on 27 March 2014.
A great leader inspires the people around them, and this can often be done through empowering people through words.
Some of the most historic figures of recent times are remembered through their leadership quotes.We’ve compiled some of our favourite leadership quotes from famous people, from the world’s most famous and impactful leaders.
From Winston Churchill to Nelson Mandela, here are some of the most famous leadership quotes.
1. Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by tackling institutionalised racism and fostering racial reconciliation.
“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”
2. Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd president of the United States from 1945 to 1953, succeeding upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt after serving as the 34th vice president. He implemented the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe, and established the Truman Doctrine and NATO.
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit”
3. Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt Jr., often referred to as Teddy Roosevelt or his initials T. R., was an American statesman, politician, conservationist, naturalist, and writer, who served as the 26th president of the United States from 1901 to 1909.
“People ask the difference between a leader and a boss.The leader works in the open, and the boss in covert. The leader leads, and the boss drives.”
4. General Bernard Law Montgomery
Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, nicknamed “Monty” and “The Spartan General”, was a senior British Army officer who served in both the First World War and the Second World War.
“My own definition of leadership is this: The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.”
5. Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Churchill was a British statesman, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led the country to victory in the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955.
“The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground.”
6. Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was an American polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a leading writer, printer, political philosopher, politician, Freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.
“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.”
7. Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt was an American political figure, diplomat and activist. She served as the First Lady of the United States from March 4, 1933, to April 12, 1945, during her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office, making her the longest-serving First Lady of the United States.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
8. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower was an American army general who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961.
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”
9. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Christian minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi.
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a moulder of consensus.”
10. Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989 and became a highly influential voice of modern conservatism. Prior to his presidency, he was a Hollywood actor and union leader before serving as the 33rd governor of California from 1967 to 1975.
“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.”
11. Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi was an Indian politician and a central figure of the Indian National Congress. She was the first and, to date, only female Prime Minister of India. Indira Gandhi was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India. She served as prime minister from January 1966 to March 1977 and again from January 1980 until her assassination in October 1984, making her the second longest-serving Indian prime minister after her father.
“My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.”
12. Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese politician, diplomat, author, and a 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The first and incumbent State Counsellor (a position equivalent to prime minister) of Myanmar, she is also the leader of the National League for Democracy and played a vital role in the state’s transition from military junta to partial democracy.
“If you want to bring an end to long-standing conflict, you have to be prepared to compromise.”
13. Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher was a British stateswoman who served as prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. She was the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century and the first woman to hold that office. A Soviet journalist dubbed her the “Iron Lady”, a nickname that became associated with her uncompromising politics and leadership style. As Prime Minister, she implemented policies known as Thatcherism.
“Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.”
14. Vaclav Havel
Václav Havel was a Czech statesman, writer and former dissident, who served as the last President of Czechoslovakia from 1989 until the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1992 and then as the first President of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003. As a writer of Czech literature, he is known for his plays, essays, and memoirs.
“The exercise of power is determined by thousands of interactions between the world of the powerful and that of the powerless, all the more so because these worlds are never divided by a sharp line: everyone has a small part of himself in both.”
15. Tony Blair
Tony Blair is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. After his resignation, he was appointed Special Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East, an office which he held until 2015. He currently serves as the Executive Chairman of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.
“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.”
16. Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 to 1865. Lincoln led the nation through its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis in the American Civil War. He succeeded in preserving the Union, abolishing slavery, bolstering the federal government, and modernising the U.S. economy.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character give him power.”
17. John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, often referred to by his initials JFK and Jack, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. Kennedy served at the height of the Cold War, and the majority of his work as president concerned relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba.
“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”
18. John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, and diarist who served as the sixth president of the United States, from 1825 to 1829. He previously served as the eighth United States Secretary of State from 1817 to 1825.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
19. Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern is a New Zealand politician who has served as the 40th prime minister of New Zealand and leader of the Labour Party since 2017.
“To me, leadership is not about necessarily being the loudest in the room, but instead being the bridge, or the thing that is missing in the discussion and trying to build a consensus from there.”
20. Barack Obama
Barack Obama is an American politician and attorney who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, Obama was the first African American president of the United States.
“I always believe that ultimately, if people are paying attention, then we get good government and good leadership. And when we get lazy, as a democracy and civically start taking shortcuts, then it results in bad government and politics.”
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