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True leadership: 40 Inspiring phrases and quotes to motivate you

Authentic leadership is not just about managing people or projects; it’s about inspiring and empowering others to achieve their best. Great leaders possess qualities that motivate those around them and foster an environment of growth, innovation, and collaboration.
Inspirational phrases and quotes can be powerful tools for igniting motivation, providing guidance, and, most importantly, reinforcing the values underpinning effective leadership. Here are 40 examples of how these quotes can impact true leadership:



True Leadership tends to create an environment where people want to be part of the organization and not only work for the organization, it encourages people to want to do and not to have to do.
Authentic Leadership: 40 Inspirational Phrases and Quotes for Motivation

True Leadership is not an opportunity to show off but it is an opportunity to serve. 

In the history of human civilization, many organizational dynamics depend on a small group of human organizers. It can even be said that the progress of humanity came from a small number of special people who showed up. These people are pioneers, thought experts, creators, and organization experts.

True leaders in the performance of their duties are not only accountable to their superiors, owners, and the achievement of the organization’s goals, but are also responsible for the organization’s internal problems, including responsibility for the development of humans resources.

Today, there is a latent leadership shortage, and as technology advances, many more leaders are required. Leadership is the foundation of everything. If you want wealth, you want to grow, you want to prosper in this world you will have to choose to become a leader or remain a follower.

There is no true leadership without proactivity, to achieve success it takes much more than positivism. Those people who managed to achieve success were proactive and initiative people.

Many times we tend to believe that leaders must have good public speaking and persuasive power, however, this is completely false since great leaders did not need this to succeed.

One important point that I want to highlight is that leaders do not necessarily have to be nice or charismatic and walk around smiling to be liked by everyone. There are leaders who are pathetic and cold. Basically a leader is authentic and what he seeks is to obtain results. They do not look for followers, on the contrary, the followers look for them.

If you want to become a true leader, you must start by improving your character.

 “Average companies are in charge of motivating their employees, while companies that excel are in charge of not demotivating their employees” – Stephen R. Covey

This means that companies that excel hire already motivated people wanting to become part of an organization and not just for salaries, while average companies hire unmotivated people and constantly seek to motivate them.

We know very well that we cannot convert ducks into eagles, however much one wants, that is a clear example of this.

A selection of 40 great phrases about true leadership

Sometimes the most powerful and meaningful things come from words that touch and impact our hearts and lead us forward to our true potential.

There are multiple authors who have reflected their thoughts about what leadership implies, due to the high impact that the role of those who consider themselves leaders to everyone who follows them or to those who lead can have. Below we will see a selection of phrases about leadership proposed by different thinkers, experts and leaders throughout history.

1. To lead people, walk with them (Lao Tzu)

This first sentence reflects a fundamental fact: the leader is because he has someone who recognizes him and follows him, being a true leader, not the one who does what he pleases supported by power but the one who truly cares about those who have put him where he is.

2. He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander (Aristotle)

The author reflects the need for those who lead to know how to put themselves in the place of those who are led by them.

3. The leader’s task is to take people from where they are to where they have not been (Henry Kissinger)

A brief phrase that reflects that the leader arises when it is necessary to reach a point that the members of the group are not capable of solving individually or without coordination.

4. Power is not to control. Power is strength and it is giving that strength to others. A leader is not someone who forces others to become stronger (Beth Revis)

This reflection makes clear reference to the existence of a difference between leading and oppressing to achieve or maintain power.

5. A great person attracts great people and knows how to keep them together (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

A phrase that reveals the relevance of personality and disposition towards others when it comes to leading effectively.

6. A good leader knows what is true; the bad leader knows what sells best (Confucius)

Confucius tells us in this sentence that the good leader is not the one who is dedicated to manipulating others to preserve their image and their power, but the one who works to achieve the well-being of those who lead, even though it may harm them.

7. Wild ducks follow the leader of their flock by the shape of their flight and not by the force of their squawk (Chinese proverb)

This proverb reflects the idea that the important thing is to give and be an example, not to give an image of strength or oppress the leaders.

8. A good leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes them where they don’t necessarily want to go but they should be (Rosalynn Carter)

The former First Lady refers to the fact that the decisions that must be made are not always in accordance with the majority current of thought, sometimes being necessary to promote an approach towards a certain position.

9. Anyone can hold the rudder when the sea is calm (Publilio Siro)

This author tells us that authentic and true leadership is shown when difficulties arise, being easy to lead without any real problem.

“The supreme quality of leadership is integrity” – Dwight Eisenhower

Eisenhower indicates the importance of integrity within the role of the true leader.

11. The best executive is one who has enough sense to choose good men to do what they want to do and enough moderation not to mess with them while they do it (Theodore Roosevelt)

A good leader is able to take full advantage of the skills of those he leads, always respecting them for what they are: those who have put him in a position of power.

12. It is better to lead from behind and put others in front, especially when things are going well. Instead, you should take the first line when there is danger. That’s when people will appreciate your true leadership (Nelson Mandela)

In this phrase, Mandela reflects on the importance of letting others develop freely, but of acting quickly and showing their face in times of need.

13. People should not feel obligated but they must be able to choose their own leader (Albert Einstein)

True leadership is the one that arises from recognition and not from imposition, as indicated by the well-known author of this phrase.

14. The art of communication is the language of true leadership (James Humes)

This phrase indicates the importance of the leader being able to correctly communicate the different objectives and aspects that those who follow him must take into account, as well as being able to accept and value the opinions of each one of them.

15. Don’t go where the path leads. Go where there is no path and leave a mark (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

A phrase that reflects that the leader is not limited to following the prescribed path, but is capable of creating new solutions and paths by which others can go.

16. In terms of style, nothing with the current. In terms of principles, it remains like a rock (Thomas Jefferson)

This phrase reflects the need to be adaptable but at the same time maintain the principles and values ​​that guide you.

17. A good leader doesn’t get stuck behind his desk (Richard Branson)

If someone wants to be a good leader, they cannot be passive: they must be able to observe and respond to changes in the environment and the needs of what they lead, offering their support and truly exercising their role in contact with reality

18. An example is not the main thing to influence others. It’s the only thing (Albert Schweitzer)

As we have previously commented, serving as an example is what makes someone recognized and deserving of respect and even leadership.

19. A true leader has the confidence to be alone, the courage to make difficult decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader but becomes one because of his actions and the integrity of his intention (Douglas MacArthur)

Being a leader is something that is not a right, but something that derives from the fact of deserving it. Likewise, the good leader is capable of facing what is necessary, what must be done to achieve it and its consequences.

“Stay with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but leave him when he is no longer right” – Abraham Lincoln

21. There is a difference between being a leader and being a boss. Both are based on authority. A boss demands blind obedience; a leader earns his authority through knowledge and trust (Klaus Balkenhol)

This phrase clearly differentiates between the position obtained by position or imposition and that obtained by respect.

22. A good leader is not a consensus seeker, but a consensus shaper (Martin Luther King)

The leader should not just wait for everyone to agree, but should actively seek to build consensus and lead to something positive.

23. Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other (John F. Kennedy)

Leadership needs learning to be able to exercise and regulate its functions, while learning requires guidance to be carried out.

24. Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to make them better (Bill Bradley)

A good leader helps others to optimize themselves and develop their full potential.

25. Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts, but about one life influencing another (John Maxwell)

The importance of leadership is actually the effect it has on the leaders and the repercussions that their actions can have on their lives.

26. Great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness, but by the presence of clear strengths (John Zenger)

Although in some of the previous sentences we have mentioned some typical characteristics of a good leader, the truth is that this does not imply that they cannot have weaknesses: all of us have a wide assortment of flaws and weak points. What the leading personalities excel at is usually the existence of great strengths.

27. The secret of leadership is simple: do what you think, draw a picture of the future and go there (Seth Godin)

Striving to achieve a goal, and helping guide your achievement, is ultimately the only sense of leadership.

28. The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader arranges the candles (John Maxwell)

The leader’s role is to guide the action and must be a fundamentally active element in achieving the objectives.

29. If a leader does not convey passion and intensity, then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they will begin to fall and become depressed (Colin Powell)

This Phrase reflects the need for those who lead to do so with motivation and with the purpose of generating it in the rest.

 “The challenge of leadership is to be strong but not rude, kind but not weak, thoughtful but not lazy, confident but not arrogant, humble but not shy, proud but not arrogant, having humour but not looking foolish”  – Jim Rohn

We have previously commented that the role of the leader is difficult, the existence of certain factors such as those mentioned being very useful, but without taking them to the extreme.

31. Leaders who work more effectively, it seems to me, never say “I”. They don’t think “me”. They think “we”. They think “team” (Tom Peters)

A phrase that highlights the importance of focusing on the well-being of the team and that it achieves its goals, leaving aside the “self”.

32. Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do, and let them surprise you with their results (George S. Patton)

The leader should not mark each step of the way but indicate the direction in which to go and allow the capabilities of each one to flow.

33. Leaders are visionaries with an underdeveloped sense of fear and without the concept of odds against them (Robert Jarvik)

Although some prudence is good, fear should not allow leadership to lose its bellows, but the leader must take risks and pursue the proposed goals.

34. If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and be more, you are a leader (John Quincy Adams)

A leader not only leads but must also set an example and inspiration

35. People who are truly powerful are very humble. They are not trying to impress, they are not trying to influence others. They simply are. Other people are magnetically attracted to them (Sanaya Roman)

A beautiful phrase that reflects that those who get the most recognition are usually the really humble, which usually makes them beloved leaders.

36. Leadership means that a group, large or small, is willing to entrust authority to a person who has demonstrated ability, wisdom, and competence (Walt Disney)

A brief but exact definition of what leadership implies.

37. A true leader is better when people hardly know he exists when his work is done and his goal accomplished they will say: we did it (Lao Tzu)

This author reflects the idea that the best leader is the one who is able to convince others that the results obtained are due solely to their own actions, despite the fact that there has been little perceived guidance behind it. Likewise, this implies that the leader in question does not lead by obtaining recognition but by a real interest in achieving the proposed goals.

38. Become the kind of leader that people would willingly follow, even if you didn’t have a title or a position (Brian Tracy)

In line with the meaning of the previous sentence, this one from Brian Tracy tells us about the importance of trying to become the type of person that we really want to follow before becoming a leader.

39. A true leader is someone you follow to a place you would not go by yourself (Joel Barker)

This phrase tells us again that good leadership allows all members of a group to achieve results that they would not achieve on their own.

“He who has great power must use it lightly” – Seneca

This last sentence tells us that power is not something that should be abused, but should only be used when necessary.

True Leadership tends to create an environment where people want to be part of the organization and not only work for the organization, it encourages people to want to do and not to have to do.

Although it is not the only measure of success from the organizational performance level, the fact shows that, without the presence of a true leader, an organization will be static and will tend to function without direction.