25 Great Leadership Development Quotes

There are a gazillion sites and books full of leadership quotes, so I’ve never been too inspired to duplicate what’s already out there. However, I did enjoy combing through all of those sites and picking out what I thought to be the 25 best leadership development quotes.

Use these to introduce your next leadership development program, build the business case for leadership development, inspire your coaching clients, motivate your employees, or just inspire yourself to develop further as a leader:

1. “To help others develop, start with yourself! When the boss acts like a little god and tells everyone else they need to improve, that behavior can be copied at every level of management. Every level then points out how the level below it needs to change. The end result: No one gets much better.” – Marshall Goldsmith

2. “There’s no such thing as a natural-born pilot.” – Chuck Yeager. Just substitute the word “leader” for “pilot”.

3. “My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.” — Jack Welch

4. “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” — Tom Peters

5. “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

6. “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

7. “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born — that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” –Warren G. Bennis

8. “Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

9. “Survival of the fittest is not the same as survival of the best. Leaving leadership development up to chance is foolish”.  – Morgan McCall

10. “Growing other leaders from the ranks isn’t just the duty of the leader, it’s an obligation.” – Warren Bennis

11. “Winning companies win because they have good leaders who nurture the development of other leaders at all levels of the organization.” — Noel Tichy

12. You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

13. There is no such thing as a perfect leader either in the past or present, in China or elsewhere. If there is one, he is only pretending, like a pig inserting scallions into its nose in an effort to look like an elephant. – Liu Shao-ch’i

14. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do. – Mahatma Gandhi

15. “’Failing forward’ is the ability to get back up after you’ve been knocked down, learn from your mistake, and move forward in a better direction.” – John Maxwell

16. “The more seriously you take your growth, the more seriously your people will take you.” — John Maxwell

17. “I’ll bet most of the companies that are in life-or-death battles got into that kind of trouble because they didn’t pay enough attention to developing their leaders.” – Wayne Calloway, former Chairman, Pepsico, Inc.

18. “Leadership, like swimming, cannot be learned by reading about it.” — Henry Mintzberg

19. “We should be careful to get out of an experience all the wisdom that is in it – not like the cat that sits on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot lid again – and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.” – Mark Twain

20. “While great leaders may be as rare as great runners, great actors, or great painters, everyone has leadership potential, just as everyone has some ability at running, acting, and painting.” – Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus

21. Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”  –
Helen Keller

22. Never try to teach a pig to sing: it wastes your time and it annoys the pig. – Paul Dickson

23. “Learning is like rowing upstream; not to advance is to drop back.” – Chinese Proverb

24. “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” ― Stephen King

25. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Gandhi