A lot of people like to share inspiring quotes. And there are many about leadership that have inspired me. But why are they inspirational? Here are my reasons.

 “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
Former First Lady

Your strategy should be to push people past their comfort zone.

 “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Civil rights leader

You can’t put a gun to people’s heads. To lead you must persuade them that what you want your people to do is in everyone’s best interests.

 “Don’t tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”

George S. Patton Jr.
U.S. General

Don’t micromanage. Delegate. Give people the opportunity to succeed on their own. Allow them to grow from their mistakes.

“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”

Theodore Roosevelt
26th U.S. President

In the end, you’re the boss. That much must be clear.

 “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.”

Peter F. Drucker
Management expert and author

Making lofty statements or poetic promises sounds nice. But how will you accomplish your goals in the real world?

 “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Abraham Lincoln
16th U.S. President

Sure, you’re the boss. But don’t be a jerk about it.

 “There are no office hours for leaders.”

Cardinal James Gibbons
American Cardinal for the U.S. Catholic Church

You’re setting the example as a business owner and leader. Your employees will know when you’re slacking, trust me.

 “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Jedi Master

Effort is nice. But this isn’t the fourth grade. In the grown-up world people expect results, whether or not the force is with you.

 “Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

You’re afraid. You’re wary. You’re skeptical. You lose sleep. You worry. Welcome to business ownership. Just don’t let anyone else know.

 “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Michael Jordan
Professional basketball player

You don’t succeed without failure. You can’t fail without trying something new. All great leaders know this.


Homer Simpson

Oh yes, you will look dumb. A lot. But that’s OK as long as you get results and you don’t take yourself too seriously.

Join writer and small business owner Gene Marks each Wednesday on the Small Biz Ahead podcast.