There are days when we need an extra spark to inspire us to accomplish our big goals. You might wonder, “what did history’s best leaders do to overcome their biggest obstacles?”
Today, we can study some of the best leaders in history, and use their wisdom to improve our own strategies. Here are eight inspirational quotes about leadership along with action steps to help you lead more effectively.
1. “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, was once fired from his own company. But during his absence, Apple had lackluster performance and decided to bring him back as an interim CEO. When he returned, he re-established the company culture of quality and excellence, which helped the company revolutionize the tech industry through the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
You must hold high standards and not be afraid to expect a lot from your team. Your definition of excellence should be clear, and you should reassure your team that they can reach your high goals. Your team will respect you for acknowledging their abilities to produce quality work.
Action Step: Implement a high standard of quality. You could give out rewards to any team members who perform exceptionally or even create events that foster and encourage professional growth.
2. “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” – John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States, known for launching the peace corps as well as the Apollo program. He also led with unclouded direction and believed that to be a great leader, you need a purpose that inspires you and your team.
Therefore, your vision has to be bigger than just making money. It needs to tap into your team’s most ambitious goals.
For example, avoid telling your team that selling your product will increase this quarter’s sales revenue. Instead, show how your product will innovate its industry and create a new gold standard for other companies to follow. Showing your heartfelt purpose will drive your team to reach higher.
Action Step: Create a purpose for your company or team. You must have a vision that your team can pursue and that will lead them to believe in you and the business. Whether it’s philanthropic or innovative, presenting it genuinely will get your team cheerfully motivated and ready to work!
3. “A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” – Arnold Glasow
Arnold Glasow is a successful businessman who wrote several business books on leadership including, Glasow’s Gloombusters. He’s highly acclaimed for his thoughts on leadership and is cited frequently in Forbes and the Chicago Tribune.
To put Glasow’s advice into practice, make others look good and take responsibility for your team’s faults. This will earn their trust and they will respect you for being so humble.
A true leader doesn’t care about looking better than everyone else. They want their team to be as successful as possible, which they do by giving credit generously and trying to fix issues they might have created.
Action Step: Practice humility. It is possible to lead and be humble at the same time, so don’t let your ego blur your vision of what leadership should be.
4. “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
Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, was called “the Great Communicator” because of his ability to lead by expressing ideas in a personal way.
To reword Reagan’s quote, your success as a leader is only as good as the success of your team. This is why great salespeople are not necessarily great sales leaders.
In order to be a successful leader, you need to motivate your team to achieve greatness. You can accomplish this by doing the following:
- Set clear goals
- Champion collaboration with your team
- Implement our effective management techniques
- Encourage positivity
- Provide opportunities for self-development
Action Step: Setting company goals isn’t enough, you must also set leadership goals. Just as you evaluate your team based on their performance, have them evaluate you as a manager. Trusting in your team not only works for the company but also helps you become a stronger leader.
5. “It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady to Franklin D. Roosevelt, was an activist leader who championed the advancement of women’s rights and embraced racial diversity. She fought for equality and wanted everyone to be treated fairly.
Use Roosevelt’s quote to understand why people generally dislike being simply told what to do. It doesn’t provide any motivation, and delegating is not true leadership.
Instead, people love seeing passion, hearing stories, and having a mission they believe in. So leverage this passion towards a certain task that can be done by a specific team member, show that you know how to do it and are willing to do it yourself, and they’ll be happy to learn how to accomplish it.
Action Step: Find ways to instill your passion into your team members’ minds. Here are some motivating examples:
- Send a weekly email that shows your sincere appreciation to your team members.
- Show your presence at each department displaying your support.
- Practice empathy. Engage with your team and acknowledge how they feel about their work as well as your leadership.
6. “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.” – Peter Drucker
Peter Drucker was a successful author and consultant who designed innovative management techniques such as “management by objectives.” His results-driven theories have innovated how leaders manage their teams today.
To apply Drucker’s quote, your decisions must be based on solid principles designed to give your team the best chance of success. This is necessary for reaching your goals.
Action Step: Develop a set of goals that will measure your team’s and company’s success. Get the right things done by making your rules clear to everyone so that they understand that your decisions are made based on results, not personal preference.
7. “To add value to others, one must first value others.” – John C. Maxwell
John Maxwell is an influential thinker who has written many bestselling books on leadership. He considers valuing people as his most appreciable asset and encourages everyone to act similarly.
If you don’t value your team members, they will notice how you treat them based on the way you interact with them. If this happens, they won’t see you as their leader and will not listen to you.
To prevent this, you must actively engage with your team and show that you are also out there with them in the trenches together. This will show how much you value them, and they will honor your leadership.
Action Step: Communicate with your team! Have weekly check-ins to see how progress is going and if there is any way you can help them to produce greater results. Your presence will show that you truly care about the success and well-being of your team.
8. “The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear.” – Brian Tracy
Brian Tracy is a famous author who wrote many books on leadership such as Earn What You’re Really Worth and The Psychology of Achievement. He is also a counselor who teaches leadership and success psychology.
As a leader, you must not let fear or problems defeat you. Following Tracy’s quote, you should place your focus on how to take the correct action and still achieve your desired outcome.
Understand that problems will inevitably happen in any company. Even the most successful companies still put out fires regularly in order to maintain its course, which is why they are still afloat today and profitable.
Action Step: You must have a comprehensive contingency plan. This will provide a coherent guide on how to respond to any crisis and will have your company bounce back from any catastrophic situation.
These great leaders grasped the fundamentals of leadership, and we can leverage their wisdom in order to be great ourselves. So apply the advice from these motivational quotes, and you too will become a better leader.
Do you have any favorite leadership quotes? Let us know in the comments below!