World history has been marked with many great leaders, and we can learn their leadership secrets through their quotes.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy

A leader has to be committed to lifelong learning and must acknowledge that there will never be a time when they are able to confidently state that they know it all. Even the greatest leaders need mentors and teachers so that their knowledge can grow into wisdom.

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

A fundamental evaluation of a great leader is in what they can inspire others to achieve. If you are focused on your own goals and aspirations you can never lead, only excel in egotism.

“As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence.” – Lao Tzu

A great leader is not a self-promoting narcissist but one dedicated to serving the stakeholders and clientele to the utmost of their ability. Ego inevitably gets in the way of leadership thus transforming the impression that your followers are being directed by a dedicated peer into one where they believe they are being driven by a petty dictator.

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter F. Drucker

In every leader’s career there are innumerable situations where doing the right thing is essentially at odds with the tangible interests of the business. There has never been a case in recorded history where choosing the path to take care of the bottom line over maintaining integrity has been a successful strategy.

“As a small businessperson, you have no greater leverage than the truth.” – John Whittier

This quote is essentially analogous to Drucker’s above. Your path as a leader has to be marked by a stubborn and unyielding dedication to the truth, no matter how uncomfortable or politically incorrect. Although it may seem temporarily expedient to proceed in a manner which obfuscates the truth, those choices inevitably turn out to be roads to disaster.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Even the greatest leader cannot lead in a vacuum. Team building is the differentiator between a leader whose greatness doesn’t extend outside of their own self-image and one that actually accomplishes positive results for all their stakeholders. Harnessing and channeling the energies of a coherent and dedicated team is the only true path to success.

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

Although many might argue with the great physicist in that his realization of E=mc2 is still regarded as borderline miraculous a century after the fact, the basic point is that leaders do not have to be divinely ordained with superhuman skills or talents in order to be great. Leaders have to be driven by their passions and curiosity to discover new ways of meeting their challenges and they will inevitably succeed.

“If you haven’t found anything to die for, you aren’t fit to live.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

It may seem ludicrous to think that you might want to be in a position to risk your life for your organization and indeed it may seem so if you’re in the business of manufacturing hydraulic pumps or fashion accessories. However, put yourself in the position of the leader of a children’s charity who witnesses a policy which will cost the life of countless innocents. If you are truly a great leader and human being, you will intervene… even if it will cost you your life.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

The great Renaissance master artist and engineer says it all in five simple words. It is easy for a leader to get lost in the nearly infinite distractions and confusions of our technological age, but it is essential to comprehend the basal simplicity behind any challenge and be able to portray it in a manner where all those around you recognize its simple elegance.

Aspiration to leadership allows you to stand on the shoulders of giants!