Quotes on leadership from world leaders past and present

Nelson Mandela was arguably one of the world's most loved leaders.  Fairfax Digital Collection.

Nelson Mandela was arguably one of the world's most loved leaders. Fairfax Digital Collection.

"It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership." - Nelson Mandela - was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.

“Successful leaders see the opportunities in every difficulty rather than the difficulty in every opportunity.”  - Reed Markham - Is a PhD and an American educator.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”  – Jim Rohn - was an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker.

American President Theodore Roosevelt. Getty images

American President Theodore Roosevelt. Getty images

“The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”  - Theodore Roosevelt  Jr. - was an American politician, author, naturalist, soldier, explorer, and historian and the 26th President of the United States.

Peace activist and leader Mahatma Gandi. Getty images.

Peace activist and leader Mahatma Gandi. Getty images.

"I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people." - Mahatma Gandhi - was the preeminent leader of Indian independence movement in British-ruled India.

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.”  –  Andrew Carnegie -  was a Scottish American industrialist who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century.

"A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit." - Arnold H. Glasow - An American businessman and humorist.

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves." - Lao Tzu - Laozi was a philosopher and poet of ancient China.

Colin Powell keep the troops on side during his years as a four-star general. Getty images.

Colin Powell keep the troops on side during his years as a four-star general. Getty images.

"Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership." - Colin Powell -  is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army.

Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish. - Sam Walton - was an American businessman and entrepreneur known for founding the retailers Walmart and Sam's Club.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. - John Quincy Adams - was an American statesman who served as the sixth President of the United States from 1825 to 1829.

Eleanor Roosevelt at the United Nations. Getty images.

Eleanor Roosevelt at the United Nations. Getty images.

"To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart."  - Eleanor Roosevelt - was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, from March 1933 to April 1945.

and an opposing view:

The Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher was known for her toughness as a leader. Getty images.

The Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher was known for her toughness as a leader. Getty images.

"Do you know that one of the great problems of our age is that we are governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas." Margaret Thatcher - was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990.

"The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet."  - Father Theodore M. Hesburgh - is president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame, is considered one of the most prominent figures in higher education in the USA.

Martin Luther King put himself in the front line as leader of the Civil Rights movement. Getty images.

Martin Luther King put himself in the front line as leader of the Civil Rights movement. Getty images.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Martin Luther King, Jr. -  was an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights movement.

"A leader isn't someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others so that they may have the strength to stand on their own." - Beth Revis -  is an American author of fantasy and science fiction.

"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 - wife of the 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter and in that capacity served as the First Lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

"A leader... is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind."  - Nelson Mandela - was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.

The 34th President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower. Getty images.

The 34th President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower. Getty images.

"You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that's assault, not leadership." - Dwight D. Eisenhower - was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961.

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it." -  Dwight D. Eisenhower 

Gough Whitlam with Little Pattie on the campaign trail. Getty images.

Gough Whitlam with Little Pattie on the campaign trail. Getty images.

"My great objective as a parliamentarian was to dramatise the deficiencies and devise practical government programs to deal with them. It was a cause that went to the heart of our way of life." Gough Whitlam - Was the Prime Minister of Australia 1972-1975.

Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith won the Victorian Cross for Australia showing his brand of leadership. Fairfax Digital Media.

Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith won the Victorian Cross for Australia showing his brand of leadership. Fairfax Digital Media.

"I just looked across and saw my mates getting ripped up, I thought I'd have a crack, not to let my mates down." - Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC - MG is a former Australian soldier and a recipient of the Victoria Cross for Australia.

The current Governor-General of Australia General Peter Cosgrove. Fairfax Regional Media.

The current Governor-General of Australia General Peter Cosgrove. Fairfax Regional Media.

"We want our leaders to be fair dinkum, as much among us as above us." - General Peter Cosgrove - AK, MC is a retired senior Australian Army officer and the 26th and current Governor-General of Australia.

“One way leadership can manifest itself is to see that everyone gets an opportunity to develop and educate themselves. Giving people the intellectual tools to do a job and removing constraints - and then getting out of their way - can produce remarkable results." - John Ralph is the ex- CEO of CRA and former chairman of the Commonwealth Bank, Foster’s Brewing Group, Pacific Dunlop and Comalco.

Australia's first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard shares a moment with the US President Barack Obama. Fairfax Regional images.

Australia's first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard shares a moment with the US President Barack Obama. Fairfax Regional images.

Over the Christmas period, I spent time with both Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, and you listen to stories and tales of how hard it can be when it's really hard, and I think we easily all talk ourselves into the proposition that it's never been as hard as this. Well it's been hard in the past. It's been really hard. So you keep doing it and, the more you do it, the more you gain strength and confidence that you can do it." - Julia Gillard - former Australian politician who served as the 27th Prime Minister of Australia.

Leadership is difficult to define, but it is easy to recognise. When you see leadership its presence is unmistakable." - Lieutenant General D M Mueller - Former Defence Force Vice-Chief.

Malcolm Fraser was the 22nd Prime Minister of Australia. Fairfax Regional Media.

Malcolm Fraser was the 22nd Prime Minister of Australia. Fairfax Regional Media.

"The great task of statesmanship is to apply past lessons to new situations, to draw correct analogies to understand and act upon present forces, to recognise the need for change.... " - Malcolm Fraser -  was a former Australian Liberal Party politician who was the 22nd Prime Minister of Australia.

“Fearless leaders have one-on-one meetings with the right people to get the ‘real’ picture. Fearless leaders build a legacy not an exit strategy. Fearless leaders build a team of champions around them. Fearless leaders put the business first and egos second. Fearless leaders do not try and predict the future. They focus on shaping it." - Sam Makhoul - is a banking and finance lawyer is also an entrepreneur, keynote speaker and success coach.

Paul Keating was Australia's 24th Prime Minsiter. Fairfax Digital images.

Paul Keating was Australia's 24th Prime Minsiter. Fairfax Digital images.

In the end, the key ingredient for public life is imagination. You imagine something better, you try to bring the people with you." - Paul Keating - former Australian politician who was the 24th Prime Minister of Australia.

Read previous articles in our series on leadership: 

Part 1: From battlefield to boardroom: Ben Roberts-Smith

Part 2: RAI's chief executive Su McCluskey on putting regional areas in the spotlight.

Part 3: Regional Arts Victoria CEO Esther Anatolitis.

Part 4: Goldfields Australian Football League Commission's Sue Brown.

Next week: Karden Disability CEO Karen Robinson shares her vision  

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