Akash: The following post is by leadership speaker and expert Paul Thornton. Paul has coauthored the book, Public Speaking Tips from the Pros with me. This post is based on his book, Leadership-Off the Wall.
Leadership Quotes to Lead and Live By
W. Clement Stone began as a shoeshine boy and became a multimillionaire. He credits his success to three words: Do It Now. He required everyone who worked for him to write those words on index cards and post them in their work area.
Over the past twenty years I have collected and analyzed many of the quotes leaders post on their office walls or keep on their desks. Here are a few of my favorites.
1. “It can be done!”—Sign President Ronald Reagan kept on his desk in the Oval Office. Leaders are optimistic, upbeat, positive, and have a can-do attitude.
2. “No Whining”—Sign on the desk of James Parker, former CEO, Southwest Airlines. Leaders take responsibility. They don’t wine and blame others.
3. “The Buck Starts Here!”—Sign on the desk of Donald Trump. Leaders see opportunity and take risks to active their vision.
4. “Speak your mind—even if your voice shakes.” That quote is by Maggie Kuhn, the founder of Gray Panthers. Author and thought leader Leslie C. Aguilar posts this quote on the wall of conference rooms when she conducts seminars and workshops on diversity. Leaders find the courage to speak up even when they’re nervous.
5. “Leaders are known for the questions they ask, not the answers they give.” —Sign on the office wall of Steve Arneson, Ph.D. when he worked at Capital One. Leaders ask questions that force us to consider new ideas and new possibilities.
6. “Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible”—Sign in the office of T. J. Rodgers, founder and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor. Leaders are demanding! They expect more than others think is possible.
7. “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” John le Carré —Sign in the office of Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., former CEO of IBM. Leaders gain first-hand knowledge. Seeing the problem, touching the part, talking directly with employees and customers provides a reality you don’t get sitting in your office.
8. “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.” This statement was made by Colin Powell, former Secretary of State of the United States. Chris Bartley Men’s Varsity Basketball Coach, at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has thisquote on his desk. Chris states, “I read it a few times daily to keep me on track as a leader. I try to keep it simple and have a clear and compelling vision for our program at WPI.”
9. “Successful People are the Few Who Focus in and Follow Through” —Sign in the office of Stew Leonard, Jr., President, Stew Leonard’s Dairy. Leaders don’t just talk about change they implement change.
10. “The time is always right to do what is right.“ Martin Luther King Jr.—Sign on the office wall of Michael Jansma, President GEMaffair.com. Leaders consistently stand up for their values and beliefs. It’s not a once in awhile thing.
11. Learning, Honesty, Integrity, Respect —Sign on the office wall of Kevin Drumm, PhD, President Broome Community College. Kevin states, “These are values of the college. On a day to day basis I try to live these values by communicating from the heart, walking the talk, and not shooting the messenger.”
12. “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something: and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”– Edward Everett Hale—Sign on the office wall of Michael S. Hyatt, CEO, Thomas Nelson Publishers. Michael states, “I like this quote because it reminds me to do something. Leaders focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.”
Leaders Set Guiding Principles
Leaders have a set core beliefs and values that are the guiding principles for what they say and do.
So, what’s posted on your office wall? What are your guiding principles?
About Leadership Expert and Speaker, Paul Thornton
Paul Thornton is an author, speaker, and trainer. He is the author of numerous articles and 13 books on management and leadership. This article is based on his book, Leadership-Off the Wall published by WestBow Press a division of Thomas Nelson Publishing. His book is available at Amazon and from the publisher 1-866-928-1240.