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20 quotes on great leadership

When it comes to leadership, nobody has all the answers. That’s why – whether you’re the CEO of a company or the manager of a team – it can be beneficial to turn to others for additional support, insights, and advice. Thankfully, we live in a time where we have close to unlimited access to the knowledge that other leaders have to share.

If you’re looking for your daily dose of inspiration, check out these quotes we collected from 15 incredible leaders. Each impart an important lesson on leadership – whether it’s about inciting personal and professional growth, being vulnerable, practicing authenticity, or nurturing your employees.  

Leadership quotes on growth 

One of the most impactful traits you can have as a leader is to embody the growth mindset. This concept was popularized by Dr. Carol Dweck and is the idea that abilities and intelligence are not fixed, but can be developed over time. Leaders with a growth mindset are always looking for ways to improve themselves professionally and personally with the intent of being better than they were yesterday.

“Just because you are CEO, don’t think you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach the organization. I’ve never forgotten that.”

Indra Nooyi, Former CEO of PepsiCo

“Invite people into your life who don’t look like you, don’t think like you, don’t act like you, don’t come from where you come from, and you might find that they will challenge your assumptions and make you grow as a person.”

Mellody Hobson, President and CEO of Ariel Investments 

“Be passionate and bold. Always keep learning. You stop doing useful things if you don’t learn.”

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.”

Michelle Obama, Former First Lady of the United States

“Growth and comfort don’t coexist. That’s true for people, for companies, for nations.”

Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President, and CEO of IBM

Leadership quotes on being vulnerable 

Practicing vulnerability is challenging to do – especially as a leader. It means being honest about your weaknesses, admitting your mistakes, and showing the people who follow you that you don’t always have the right answer. However, it’s also an important part of leadership because vulnerability lies at the root of human connection and will make you a more relatable, empathetic figure to your team.

“The great leaders are not the strongest, they are the ones who are honest about their weaknesses. The great leaders are not the smartest; they are the ones who admit how much they don’t know. The great leaders can’t do everything; they are the ones who look to others to help them. Great leaders don’t see themselves as great; they see themselves as human.”

Simon Sinek, Author of “Start With Why” and “The Infinite Game”

“I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.”

Brene Brown, Research Professor and CEO of The Daring Way

“If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.”

Tim Ferriss, Entrepreneur and Author of “The Four-Hour Workweek” and “Tools of Titans” 

“The secret of being wrong isn’t to avoid being wrong! The secret is being willing to be wrong. The secret is realizing that wrong isn’t fatal. The only thing that makes people and organizations great is their willingness to be not great along the way. The desire to fail on the way to reaching a bigger goal is the untold secret of success.”

Seth Godin, Author, Blogger, and Former Business Executive

“It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable.”

Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx

Leadership quotes on authenticity

Whether you’re a people manager or a CEO, you’ll be exposed to many opinions about the way you lead; and sometimes those opinions won’t always be positive. In those moments, it’s important to return to authenticity and stay true to the values that are personally important to you. Otherwise, you risk being pulled in too many directions and becoming a disingenuous and ineffective leader. 

“I realized I was more convincing to myself and to the people who were listening when I actually said what I thought, versus what I thought people wanted to hear me say.”

Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of VEON

“Introverts need to trust their gut and share their ideas as powerfully as they can…The trick for introverts is to honor their own styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.”

Susan Cain, Author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”

“You can’t be all things to everyone and still be effective.”

Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners

“In the end I do respond to my own instincts. Sometimes they’re successful, and obviously sometimes they’re not. But you have to, I think, remain true to what you believe in.”

Anna Wintour, Journalist, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, and Artistic Director of Condé Nast

“I’ve been popular and unpopular, love and loathed, and I know how meaningless it all is. Therefore I feel free to take whatever risks I want.”

Madonna, Co-Founder of Maverick

Leadership quotes on nurturing people

Finally, all good leaders know that people are their most valuable assets. That’s why they invest the time and resources it takes to support, grow, and recognize their employees or team members.  

“It’s vital for us to get together and discuss what we’re doing well, and what we can do to help more people feel that they can be open about their identity.”

Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas Airways

“Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about.”

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

“Make sure that you are seeing each person on your team with fresh eyes every day. People evolve, and so your relationships must evolve with them. Care personally; don’t put people in boxes and leave them there.”

Kim Scott, Author of “Radical Candor”

“Talent is our number one operating priority.”

Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn

“Before you become a leader, success is all about growing yourself. After you become a leader, success is about growing others.”

Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric 

Hopefully these quotes inspired you to think more deeply about your role as a company leader. Remember, nobody expects perfection but there’s always room for growth! Take advantage of learnings from the leaders who have already walked in your shoes to find ways to better serve your organization and its people. 

Books are a wonderful way to draw inspiration from other leaders. To access our most recommended leadership books, download 18 Leadership Books For Every Stage Of Your Career.