The 10 Best Leadership Quotes to Inspire You

Illustration of a man holding a rope arrow and helping a group of people reach a target

It can be hard to lead in the modern workplace, from insubordinate employees to colleagues unwilling to support your management vision. This can lead to feeling dejected and disappointed, causing you to lose your motivation and passion for your position. This then creates another situation where your staff can tell that your dedication is diminishing. Ultimately, there is a domino effect that can impact your leadership, both for you and your team.

This might explain why many professionals hang posters of leadership quotes on their cubicle walls, hoping to ignore that lost spark in their careers or to inspire the team. But perhaps it is time to move beyond the image of a catch holding on a rope and a caption that reads ‘Hang in there, kitty!’. At the same time, far too many statements that used to be powerful have since devolved into clichés that make you roll your eyes in the back of your head – and that is a sight that will not help your plight!

Isn’t it time for something unique and engaging? There are only so much Lao Tzu proverbs you can memorise! We’ve compiled a list of 10 inspirational leadership quotes to potentially elevate your spirits or boost morale at your organisation that can facilitate effective team management.

So, what have the greatest minds in history said this time?

1. ‘Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.’ – St Jerome

How many times have you felt like your team is not giving its all? If you’ve ever wondered what the role of a leader is, this quote should highlight your importance.

You need to stress the importance of giving your best and going the extra mile. Indeed, if nobody is giving their best efforts, then the best results will not be delivered. And this could apply to yourself, too. You can never be a true leader and you can never motivate others to succeed if you can’t give your best.

2. ‘Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do it.’ – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A lot of leaders may find it challenging to deal with new hires who possess an MBA or a PhD and attended the best schools. These employees may think they know it all, often questioning the purpose and strategies of everything you delegate. But their credentials may not usually not be the case of an all-knowing omnipotent being.

Indeed, many of your employees are willing to go to work and apply their expertise, but this can trigger complacency, which is the death knell of any organisation. Hence, willingness is not enough. Acting on that willingness is what gets things done. And as a leader, your ultimate goal is to get things done. If you apply the knowledge that you have and if you do and if you lead by action, you can truly be a successful leader.

3. ‘It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.’ – Confucius

In these times, this is another very important quote in line with societal trends. It seems we’re all in this race to outdo each other, but we need to pause and think of what we’re doing. It’s not necessary to match the pace of other people. It doesn’t matter if you start late or if you start slow. The important thing is that you keep doing what you’re doing and don’t stop, and this is imperative to teach others.

Whether someone wants to be a team project leader or receive a promotion, they must be encouraged to do so at their own pace. By putting forward this concept, you can effectively lead your staff.

4. ‘Believe you can, and you’re halfway there.’ – Theodore Roosevelt

This is a truly inspirational quote that highlights the importance of faith and belief in your team’s abilities and talent. If you know they can do it, you have already reached half your destination. If you don’t believe they can do something, nobody else can help you.

You may have the right resources, the right job, the right position, but if you don’t believe in them, success can never be your team’s. As a leader, faith and belief in yourself and your team is critical.

5. ‘Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.’ – Francis of Assisi

How do you work towards shared goals?

If you want your employees to achieve success, you have to understand that it will not happen overnight. You have to understand that, in order to achieve something big, you have to show everyone how to take all the necessary steps first to make it happen.

If you want to be successful and if you want to accomplish the company’s goals, each person needs to complete their responsibilities first. Once you have crossed this stage, start looking at the possibilities and evaluate what you can do, and aim for that.

Once you achieve what was possible, show the team what you aspire for the challenges that are tougher because if everyone can do what is possible, everyone can surely achieve the impossible.

6. ‘Persistence prevails when all else fails.’ – Unknown

Who feels like burning the midnight oil after a long day? Well, that’s life. And a sign of an effective leader is getting everyone to push their boundaries and take their work ethic to the next level.

You and your team need to keep going if there’s a deadline that needs to be met. It’s persistence that will keep you going even when nothing else is on your side. And if you’re persistent, your subordinates will have the motivation to move on, overcome challenges, surmount hurdles and reach the goals.

Leaders face many challenges. If you break down, you’re not a leader. If you demonstrate persistence, you are one.

7. ‘Every life is a story. Make yours a best-seller.’ – Unknown

In life, if you want to achieve big things and attain success, you need to think about who you are, what you stand for, what you want to do with your life and how you want to achieve what you want to achieve. This life is yours and nobody else’s.

It might be hard to do (thanks, Facebook and Instagram!), but it’s crucial to never compare your situation to anyone else. You don’t want aim to be what somebody else already is. This is your life and your story. You are the leader of your story, so make it the best.

Who knows? This type of independence may encourage somebody else in your firm to do the same thing!

8. ‘Anyone who has ever made anything of importance was disciplined.’ – Andrew Hendrixson

This is a very important quote for anyone who has ever wanted to achieve something in life. This is especially relevant for the new generation as they might have the necessary skills, talent and tools but often lack the discipline to truly make it big.

In life, we all have opportunities, but it’s only those who stay on track, remain disciplined and follow a plan who make the most out of these opportunities. A team succeeds when you and your staff adhere to these concepts. By doing the opposite, everyone becomes rigid and unsuccessful.

9. ‘Optimism is the one quality more associated with success and happiness than any other.’ – Brian Tracy

Pessimists will not only drag themselves down, but they will always drag others down with them, too.

Your state of mind, positive attitude and optimism can help you achieve great things even if they seem impossible. Optimism is a key ingredient to happiness overall, while negativity only brings you down and slows down your path to success.

It’s often said that you are the company you keep. If your staff members are around a cynical leader, then they will become cynical, too, which will weigh down on achieving your objectives.

10. ‘Always keep your eyes open. Keep watching. Because whatever you see can inspire you.’ – Grace Coddington

This quote highlights a very key message: never stop learning. Put simply, keep your eyes open and observe everything.

You may not realise it but whatever you see, observe and experience is a lesson and an inspiration. This is an effective management technique, too. The problem that many people face is that they don’t even realise half of the things they absorb. In other words, you should never underestimate the power of your surroundings and your external environment.

And this somewhat ties into the previous point: if you surround yourself with good people, you will learn how to be good. If you surround yourself with optimists, you will feel optimism. If you surround yourself with successful people, you will learn how to succeed.

Just keep your eyes open and keep watching and absorbing and learning.

Sometimes you just want to be inspired to help you either elevate your leadership qualities or to find the ambition to enhance your skills. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen when Susan from accounting and Ken from marketing decide to share some overquoted statement on Facebook and Instagram. There have been so many great minds over the years whose wisdom has been ignored for far too long. But they shall be ignored no longer!

What are your favourite leadership quotes? Let us know in the comments section below!