46 Business Leadership Quotes from Inspirational Leaders
August 23, 2023

As a business leader, CEO, Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner, or Non-Profit leader, a significant part of your day-to-day role requires you to lead and inspire your team. This can involve:  

  • Helping them grow professionally
  • Encouraging them to work hard to meet organizational goals
  • Managing conflict
  • Championing teamwork

While you’re taking care of your organization and the team’s needs, who is taking care of you?

Given the scope of your work and the organization’s needs, it can be easy to lose yourself and run out of motivation to keep going. This can severely impact your organization, for example, through a lack of accountability, demotivated team members, and failure to reach set goals consistently. 

To avoid burnout and to keep on the right track, surround yourself with people, and consume content that inspires you and shows you how to be a better leader every day. We have curated a list of quotes from inspirational leaders that you can reflect on when you need that extra motivation boost.  


It is easy to confuse leadership with popularity or power in today’s hypercompetitive world. Popularity refers to the number of people who know you, while leadership determines how many people will grow from your instruction, mentorship, and guidance.  

leader is someone who can tap into the motivations and interests of others to accomplish some goal. A good leader will ensure that the plan is for the benefit of the majority if not everyone.

Anyone can be a leader uniquely, regardless of their rank in society or an organization. Here are a few quotes on leadership to inspire you and help you improve, irrespective of your natural style.

1 – “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” ~ Kenneth H. Blanchard

2 – “Leadership is an action, not a position.” ~ Donald McGannon

3 – “Leadership should be more participative than directive, enabling than performing.” ~ Mary D. Poole

4 – “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” ~ Rosalynn Carter

5 – “Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple, and it is also that difficult.” – Warren Bennis

6 – “The distance between numbers one and two is always a constant. If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself, and the organization gets pulled up with you. That is a big lesson.” – Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo

7 – “Leaders get out in front and stay there by raising the standards by which they judge themselves – and by which they are willing to be judged.” – Frederick W. Smith

8 – “Leadership and culture aren’t about being the boss or being in control; they are about creating shared visions and goals, and then inspiring, empowering and influencing others to achieve more than they ever thought possible.” – Gary Brooks

9 – “One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” – Arnold Glasow

10 – “Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time leading yourself – your purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, and conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers.” – Dee Hock

11 – “Ninety percent of leadership is the ability to communicate something people want.” – Dianne Feinstein

12 – Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” – Sheryl Sandberg, former CEO Meta

13 –  “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” –John Quincy Adams

14 – “The true mark of a leader is the willingness to stick with a bold course of action — an unconventional business strategy, a unique product-development roadmap, a controversial marketing campaign — even as the rest of the world wonders why you’re not marching in step with the status quo. In other words, real leaders are happy to zig while others zag. They understand that in an era of hyper-competition and non-stop disruption, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand for something special.”

-Bill Taylor, “Do You Pass the Leadership Test?”

15 – “ Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader” – Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo

16 – A person doing his or her best becomes a natural leader by example. – Joe Dimaggio – New York Yankees Outfielder & Hall of Fame basketball player

Planning and Perseverance

A Team Helping Each Other
A Team Helping Each Other

Having and setting goals is important as it triggers new behaviors, guides focus and helps you grow and sustain your momentum in life. We shouldn’t be afraid to dream big, but we should be careful and remember that even the greatest dreams worth pursuing will take time to develop and manifest into reality. 

With a proper plandedication, and the ability to persevere through the toughest situations, we can accomplish the goals we set for ourselves and live our dream life. If you’re hoping to start and run your own business or non-profit someday, here are a few quotes to inspire you:

17 –  You don’t learn to walk by following the rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over. -Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group

18 – “Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.” – Kenichi Ohmae

19 – “I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” —Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder, and CEO

20 – “The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.” ― Seth Godin

21 – “Many people don’t focus enough on execution. If you commit to get something done, you need to follow through on that commitment.” – Kenneth Chenault

22 – Life is too short to spend your time avoiding failure. – Michael Bloomberg, Founder, Bloomberg LP

Building a Business 

One of the tasks entrepreneurs and business leaders have is finding strategic ways to grow their businesses. This can be through cost reductionsearching for new market opportunities, or product diversification.

Although today’s business environment may make it seem that every market has been covered, so many changes create business opportunities every day. All it takes is an entrepreneurial spirit and a creative mind to find—or create—market opportunities to help you build and grow your business.

The following are a few quotes that will get your creative juices flowing. Should you need assistance clarifying your ideas or market opportunities, consider investing in a business consultant for your business’s long-term growth.

23 – “You’ve got to look for a gap, where competitors in a market have grown lazy and lost contact with the readers or viewers” Rupert Murdoch, Founder 21st Century Fox

24 – “You don’t need to be a genius or a visionary, or even a college graduate for that matter, to be successful. You just need a framework and a dream. – Michael Dell, Founder, Dell

25  – “I had to make my own living and opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.” – Madam C.J. Walker

26 – “I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me 30 years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.” – Aliko Dangote

27 – “Nothing stops an organization faster than people who believe that the way you worked yesterday is the best way to work tomorrow.” – Jon Madonna

28 – “The things we fear most in organizations – fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances – are the primary sources of creativity.” – Margaret Wheatley

29 – ‘To succeed in business, it’s necessary to make others see things as you see them’ – Aristotle Onassis, Shipping Magnate

30 – ​​Hire people that are better than you and then leave them to get on with it – David Ogilvy, Founder Ogilvy & Mather

31 – I don’t believe in failure; it is not a failure if you enjoy the process. – Oprah Winfrey, Founder Oprah Winfrey Network

32 – ‘ You’ve got to look for a gap, where competitors in a market have grown lazy and lost contact with the readers or viewers” Rupert Murdoch, Founder 21st Century Fox

33 – If you’ve got an idea, start today. There’s no better time than now to get going. That doesn’t mean quitting your job and jumping into your idea 100 percent from day one, but small progress can always be made to start the movement. Kevin Systrom, Founder of Instagram

34 – Plant lots and lots of seeds; hopefully, one will grow!  Melanie Perkins, founder and CEO of Canva

Team Building 

Rowing Team
Rowing Team

Building a successful and sustainable business requires teamwork. Although a lack of funds may require you to do everything by yourself early, it becomes an unsustainable system as the business grows over time.

As you hire people into your team, investing in them—financially, professionally, and mentally—is vital as this will have long-term positive effects on your business. Try your best to interact with your team regularly and make them feel part of the business or work that you do.

As you read these quotes, remember that an employee who feels valued is likelier to perform better and be motivated to help the business grow.

35 – Train people well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough so they don’t want to. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group

36 – No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” – Reid Hoffman

37 – “Telling people not what they want to hear but what they need to hear is a key element of being able to lead.” – John Smith

38 –   People want guidance, not rhetoric; they need to know what the plan of action is and how it will be implemented. They want to be given the responsibility to help solve the problem and the authority to act on it.” – Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO

39 – A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.” – Zig Ziglar, Founder, Ziglar Performance Group

40 – “A leader is a person you will follow to a place you would not go by yourself.” – Joel Barker, President, North Face Technology

41 –  “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” – Ken Kesey

42 – A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.” – Simon Sinek, Author

43 –  “The very essence of leadership is [that] you have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” – Theodore Hesburgh

44 – ‘ Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first” – Angela Ahrendts, former Senior Vice President, Apple

45 – “You have to look at leadership through the eyes of the followers and you have to live the message. I have learned that people become motivated when you guide them to the source of their own power and when you make heroes out of employees who personify what you want to see in the organization.” ~ Anita Roddick

46 – A boss says, Go! A leader says, Let’s go! George E.M. Kelly, former Army Pilot

Build and Motivate Your Team Today!

Reading inspiring quotes is the first significant step toward accomplishing any goal. If any—or all—of these have motivated you, and you feel you can achieve anything, you should leverage that feeling to plan and set goals to help you become an inspirational leader and build a successful team.

I offer executive business coaching and consulting services that will help you grow into the leader you’d like to be. If you’re ready to lead your team, contact me today. I will examine your leadership style and help you develop strategies unique to your business to help you grow.  

Check out the Entrusted to Lead Podcast for the latest tools and tips for helping you lead well!  

I look forward to watching you grow!