I love rankings and polls. I especially enjoy them during college football season as hundreds of so-called pundits tell us who the best teams in America are. Of all the college football polls, the Coaches Poll and the Associated Press Poll are the most widely read among them. Each of those polls ranks 25 teams each week during the season. In that spirit, I am ranking my top 25 leadership quotes.
I made the decision not to include quotes from the Bible. Jesus, Paul, and Proverbs would have dominated the list. Here are my top 25 quotes, at least for now.
- The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground. —Sir Winston Churchill
- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. —Thomas Jefferson (see comment below regarding the authenticity of this quote)
- Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations. —Peter Drucker
- The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. —Max DePree
- Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. —Publilius Syrus
- He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander. —Aristotle
- 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 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
- Leaders aren’t born; they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal. —Vince Lombardi
- If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. —John Quincy Adams
- No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent. —Abraham Lincoln
- We live in a society obsessed with public opinion. But leadership has never been about popularity. —Marco Rubio
- Whatever you are, be a good one. —Abraham Lincoln
- To have long term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way. —Pat Riley
- Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. —Warren Bennis
- The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. —Theodore Roosevelt
- Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems. —Brian Tracy
- Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. —General George Patton
- A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd. —Max Lucado
- I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody. —Herbert Swope
- You manage things; you lead people. —Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
- Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy. —Norman Schwarzkopf
- Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. —John F. Kennedy
- The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership. —Harvey Firestone
- Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish. —Sam Walton
What do you think of my list? I think I missed a few good ones by Margaret Thatcher. I’ll probably add her quotes in the future. What would you add?
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