25 Leadership Quotes you’ve never heard

A few weeks ago I checked my timeline on Twitter and the entire page was just leadership soundbites.

Some had been put onto an attractive background to make them look more important, some had been attributed to Aristotle or Einstein to make them seem more important – but essentially it was a hint that there was nothing new to share – unless you count new tweets from this guy.


I tweeted that what I thought modern business really needed to drag it completely out of the mire of the financial crisis was #moreleadershipquotes. This is a selection of how people responded.  Take them and do good in the world. Put them above your desk, turn them into calendars – there is more honesty here than you will find in most.

  1. “People don’t resist change, they resist being changed… so let them dress themselves”
  2. “I always maintain that no one person is bigger than this organisation. Although I am about the same size”
  3. “Leaders need edge – that’s the bit they stuff with cheese in pizza these days and I get first dibs” Jack Welch
  4. “Culture isn’t part of the game, culture is THE only game. If we don’t count Scrabble or Monopoly or Hide and Seek”
  5. “You find the most successful leaders at the back. It’s easier to avoid blame if you keep away from the actual action”
  6. “Don’t swear the small stuff. Actually don’t sweat at all. No one likes a stinky leader”
  7. “You don’t need a title to be a leader… anyone from any class in society can be an omnipotent CEO with real power “
  8. “We must design workplaces that foster collaboration, places to pin up the notices banning social media”
  9. “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, automate it and I really don’t care unless it breaks”
  10. “The best leaders create more leaders. But not through cloning, because that’s illegal”
  11. “Hire for attitude, train for skills. Unless your trainers are idiots with a good attitude”
  12. “You don’t need a title to be a leader. But seriously, it better start with Senior and end in VP”
  13. “Leaders take the risks other people wouldn’t. Ask anyone at Enron”
  14. “Leadership is the art of getting other people to do work. Because that golf won’t play itself”
  15. “feedback is the breakfast of champions, making culture a total loser as it eats strategy”
  16. “you can always spot the leader in the room, if you can’t just get an org chart out”
  17. “a good leader never takes the credit (except at bonus time, they aren’t idiots)”
  18. “leaders aren’t born, they are made. Although obviously they are born”
  19. “A good leader is like a conductor- he orders people around with a stick”
  20. “managers do things right, leaders do the right things, management gurus write things”
  21. “Do not lead from the front. Lead from the back, where it’s easier I see if people are on their smartphones”
  22. “culture eats strategy for breakfast – and then market forces eat culture as a snack
  23. “not everything that can be counted counts, but check out my pivot-table anyway”
  24. “Teach a man to fish, and he might quit and become a fisherman, so don’t teach anyone how to fish. Ever”

And remember…”Leadership isn’t a metaphor; it’s forging iron of resilience in fires of complexity”

thanks to plenty of people – in particular Neil Usher, Andrew Jacobs, David Goddin, Simon Heath, Broc Edwards and the brilliant Jane Watson

3 thoughts on “25 Leadership Quotes you’ve never heard

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