Quotes Every Leader Should Lead By

87789834The human race has always had a fascination with the collection of words. Throughout the history of civilization, words have had the power of blessing, cursing, and motivating. We see this when we read verses in the Bible, hear the timeless phrase “et tu, Brute,” or watch our favorite war movies. This is why historians have documented the words of leaders, politicians, and intellectuals for us from the beginning of time. The power of words is accepted yet not quite understood. Still, we find solace and encouragement when studying words of past leaders. Let us take a look at these leaders who all had their words remembered in one way or another. This is not a list of the most famous quotes or the best leaders, but words of motivation that every leader can gather insight from to better lead a team.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy
JFK has been immortalized in our culture by one of the darkest days in American history, so his quotes have become some of the most recognizable of any president. The truth that leadership and learning go hand in hand is very important for a business leader. We must know the importance of education in the work place. Either by reading business books or taking classes to stay sharp in your field, every employer must continue to learn how to better lead. One outlet we may look past is the wealth of information that our employees bring to the table. Just because they may be subordinates, doesn’t mean they don’t have the skills, training, or knowledge that we lack. We also find that by learning more about how our employees work and learn, we have a better chance of motivating them to achieve success they may have thought impossible.

“Innovation distinguishes a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs
Jobs had an illustrious career in the computer and information industry, but he is mostly recognized as the man who saved Apple, Inc. After leaving the company in 1985, he returned and became the de facto CEO in the 90s when Apple was struggling. The one thing that brought the company back from the dead was the introduction of a game-changing device: the iPod. Jobs always faced the need to innovate with being proactive as opposed to reactive. Innovation wasn’t something to remain relevant, but the way to create the new standard for relevance. As a business leader, you either create and lead or accept and follow. The importance of being on the cutting edge is the difference between a company that is prosperous and one that simply bleeds its resources. Find new ways to address old problems, and maybe it will bring your company to the cusp of trending in your field.

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemmingway
Hemmingway was one of the most notable writers of the 20th century. But before he wrote the immortal words of A Farewell to Arms or For Whom the Bell Tolls, he was stationed on the Italian front during World War I. He enlisted as an ambulance driver and found himself in the thick of nightmare-like battles. His experiences in the war would later influence some of his most famous work. Being at war, he knew what it was to trust someone. He had to trust that the person next to him wouldn’t leave him, and that person would have to trust that Hemmingway would stand by him. He actually received a medal of honor because of a selfless act of dragging a wounded warrior to safety – while he was wounded as well. In business, we aren’t having to trust our team members in the same way. But still, we need to trust our judgment in the employees we hired and trained. As a leader, the best way to train is by trusting an employee with an important task. They will in turn build confidence and work hard to earn our respect.

“I never worry about action, but only inaction.” – Winston Churchill
Wars change people. Wars change societies. But one thing is certain, wars do not change character; they reveal it. Anytime we are faced with inexplicable feats, how we act upon them shows what kind of leader we are. Churchill was one of the most colorful people of the past century. He was very brut and resolute. During the 30s and 40s, England experienced some of the harshest conditions of World War II, being bombed nearly every night by Nazi Germany. As prime minister of the country, he was faced with the issues of sustainability. What was his response? Action. Not to sit idly by while his beloved London was being targeted by the Fuhrer. In our office, we see issues arise every day. Whether from clients or employees, conflict is all around. The best way to bring resolution to these is to act upon them. This may seem simple, but one thing companies across the world are showing is their true character. We saw this with Enron and AIG. Instead of sweeping issues under the carpet, let us as leaders face them in confidence. Action is the purest form of leadership. We act and those around us will follow.

Words are the gateway from inspiration to motivation. We find the more we look into the past at great leaders’ words, we are given a broader vision of how we want our team to pursue the future. What are your favorite phrases or quotes? Share with us in the comment section.

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