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4 Leadership Quotes that Hold Us to a Higher Standard

As leaders, and aspiring leaders, we have many constituents and they are all important. But at the end of the day you have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and feel good about what you see. First and foremost “ you are accountable to yourself. To be true to ourselves, it helps to discover why we want to lead, what our values are, and whether or not we sufficiently “walk the talk“. Here are 4 leadership quotes that hold us to a higher standard — these nuggets of wisdom challenge us to stay true to ourselves, hold ourselves accountable, and aspire to greater heights of leadership achievement. Enjoy!


1. “Don’t say, ‘If I could, I would.’ Say, ‘If I can, I will.'”

Jim Rohn (tweet)

This quote from business philosopher, Jim Rohn, challenges us to adjust our attitude towards our goals. We can’t just wish for things. We must take meaningful action and overcome perceived challenges if we want to lead effectively. Practicing an approach that celebrates the possible, even in the face of obstacles, is a good way to begin to lift performance.

2. “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.”

Warren Buffett (tweet)

While Buffett is arguably using hyperbole here — his point remains a poignant reminder of how seriously we should take the issue of integrity. As leaders, people are watching us carefully. We owe it to our stakeholders, and to ourselves, to do what we say we are going to do and to do it well. The more we behave in a manner that is consistent with our declared values, the larger our reservoir of good will. The more good will we create through trustworthy leadership, the more likely our constituents will grant us the benefit of the doubt if we do make a misstep.

3. “Just because you are CEO, don’t think you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach the organization.”

Indra Nooyi (tweet)

PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi, delivers sage advice about the importance of continual development — and the dangers of complacency. Today’s business landscape is increasingly Darwinian; if we hope to achieve enduring success for all stakeholders, we need an adaptive approach that is focused on learning and growth. Leadership mastery is a quest, not a destination. We should be striving for new insights on each step of our leadership journey.

 4. “Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It’s precisely that simple, and it’s also that difficult.”

Warren Bennis (tweet)

This quote is taken from Bennis’ leadership book, “On Becoming a Leader.” In the same book he also writes, “Becoming the kind of person who is a leader is the ultimate act of free will . . .” He’s right. We all have the capacity to do the work, and introspection, necessary to connect with our purpose. We all have the ability to channel that discovery into exemplary, integrity-laden leadership. But it is a choice. Noone is going to do the work for us. Bennis’ words remind us that leadership, at its heart, is a noble but arduous endeavor; it’s a quest to push ourselves to deeper levels of inquiry, reflection, and practice. For those driven to this leadership journey of self-discovery, the work is its own reward.

What quotes inspire have inspired you to hold yourself to a higher standard? 

Doug Conant is remarkable—and so is this work.
– Stephen M. R. Covey
Author of The Speed of Trust

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