Part of leadership that works is a commitment to continuous improvement. To that end, we find it helps to consult the vast wisdom of others, across professions and spheres of influence. Quotes — even though they’re short and don’t explore complex topics in depth — can often within the space of a few characters, change our entire perspective about a big challenge we’re facing, or provide an actionable insight we can apply in our leadership. One big thing people struggle to manage in leadership is change, not just adapting to it, but leading it from the top. What can you do — and how can you persuasively frame its importance and earn buy-in — when it’s up to you to right the ship that’s gone off course, steering the entire effort towards a new and unknown (but often exciting) destination? To help leaders who are in charge of leading change, we compiled 25 quotes about managing change and championing change to your stakeholders. Enjoy! And share your favorite quotes about change in the comments or by tweeting @DougConant.
25 Quotes about Managing Change
1. I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better. – Georg C. Lichtenburg
2. The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. – Amelia Earhart
3. The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic. – Peter Drucker
4. Powerful and sustained change requires constant communication, not only throughout the rollout but after the major elements of the plan are in place. The more kinds of communication employed, the more effective they are. – DeAnne Aguirre
5. The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow. – Rupert Murdoch
Managers have to get their hands dirty.
6. If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. – Lao Tzu
7. If you want what you’re saying heard, then take your time and say it so that the listener will actually hear it. – Dr. Maya Angelou
8. If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary. – Jim Rohn
9. The announcement is the easy part; it makes the manager look bold and decisive. Implementation is more difficult, because no matter how good and compelling the data, there will always be active and passive resistance, rationalizations, debates, and distractions – particularly when the changes require new ways of working or painful cuts. To get through this, managers have to get their hands dirty, engage their teams to make choices, and sometimes confront recalcitrant colleagues. – Ron Ashkenas and Rizwan Khan
10. Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots. – Victor Hugo
11. Few things are more important during a change event than communication from leaders who can paint a clear and confidence-inspiring vision of the future. – Sarah Clayton
12. They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. – Andy Warhol
13. As dealing with change becomes a regular activity, leading it becomes a skill to hone, an internal capacity to master. – Arnaud Henneville
Change your opinions, keep to your principles.
14. It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference. – Tom Brokaw
15. The reality is that the only way change comes is when you lead by example. – Anne Wojcicki
16. If you are entrusted with bringing about change, you likely possess the knowledge needed to advance the organization, and you might have a plan — but knowledge is not enough. You have to bring yourself to each interaction in a deeply authentic way. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. – Doug Conant
17. Change cannot be put on people. The best way to instill change is to do it with them. Create it with them. – Lisa Bodell
18. Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. – John Wooden
19. The people must have ownership in the vision. They need to be enabled to accomplish it. If there is one investment you should make, it is in people. – Modesta Lilian Mbughuni
20. Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world. – Joel A. Barker
21. You can’t change the world alone – you will need some help – and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them. – William H. McRaven
You can’t change the world alone.
22. Change is a normal part of our lives, but it’s uncomfortable for the vast majority of people because it makes them feel like they’ve lost control. Do you remember a time when you felt like things were being done to you that you had no control over? That’s how they may feel now. In every way you can, let them know that you can relate to that. – Mary Jo Asmus
23. Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing. – John D. Rockefeller
24. Every successful organization has to make the transition from a world defined primarily by repetition to one primarily defined by change. This is the biggest transformation in the structure of how humans work together since the Agricultural Revolution. – Bill Drayton
25. Companies that change may survive, but companies that transform thrive. Change brings incremental or small-scale adaptations, while transformation brings great improvements that ripple through the future of an organization. – Nick Candito
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More Quote Collections
For more collections of inspiring leadership quotes, check out our 26 Tough-Minded Leadership Quotes for Better Performance, our 37 Quotes on Reaching Life & Leadership Goals, our Quotes That Inspire Greater Commitment, our 52 Quotes About Trust and Leadership, our 26 Quotes for the Holiday Season, and our 38 Quotes About Bravery and Leadership.