Here are 10 quotes about leadership and teamwork that might inspire you to action in management and leadership.
It's also a nice break from our more research-driven articles on leadership, both in writing and in reading.
Quotes, like communication, can be interpreted differently depending upon the recipient's experiences, biases, and environment.
In light of this, you'll find our reflections, following each quote.
"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
At first read, one might take this as a suggestion to practice autocratic leadership as a means of driving followers to the leader's vision for success and a particular, predetermined roadmap through which to reach that destination.
Deeper examination might prompt the realization that comfort zones are just that - cozy, comfortable, and a place where you might just want to set up shop for a while. Though, comfort and complacency can be dangerous for teams and organizations needing to maintain competitive advantage, reach investor-determined targets, or increase market share.
One can also look at this as breaking away from status quo or a culture of being just good enough. A key to getting this done? Make sure that the urgency for change isn't felt by only one person or group, yet that the need is appreciated throughout a majority of the team or organization.
"Leadership is much more an art, a belief, a condition of the heart, than a set of things to do." ~ Max De Pree
While the data-loving, research-driven, analytical side of me appreciates leadership as a process, the creative in me loves the beauty that can unfold when one is guided by a sense of purpose.
In terms of leadership and teamwork, this reminds me of two areas of Kouzes and Posner's 5 Practices of Exemplary Leadership - Challenge the Process, and Model the Way.
A challenging of an existing process can occur through innovation, which in itself might require creativity and openness of thought to paint upon a fresh canvas. Where a leader demonstrates this challenging of the status quo, their teams are presented a model to follow. And, when it comes to art and creativity, grants license to team members to become their most artistic, designing from spirit rather than force.
"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships." ~ Michael Jordan
Change doesn't become a competitive advantage through the successful implementation of one change project. In order for a culture of change to become embedded in an organization, those involved must go through a series of changes, where the successes and failures may be many. The intelligence piece speaks to the learning that occurs in the games and change projects, not all of which are won, yet contribute to the team and organizational knowledge from which to continue to prepare.
"Strong and cohesive teams thrive when leaders highlight how much they all have in common, not how much he or she stands above from the crowd." ~ Moira Alexander
Reicher et al. (2018) suggest that the shared social identity approach to leadership, unlike others that focus on what sets a leader apart, highlights that which makes leaders and followers members of the same social group. This isn't to say that the professional responsibilities of the leader and team members are the same, or that the leader will participate in all of the same items that might be in an employee's job description, yet that a trust and understanding has been built that delivers a sense of us when it comes to the behaviors desired to move the team forward to a collective vision.
"When you hand good people possibility, they do great things." ~ Biz Stone
While the quote doesn't say it directly, to me this speaks to employees' ability to participate in strategy and decision-making. A top-down approach to strategy can leave little room for the insight and feedback of employees in shaping how teams and organizations will get from where they are now to the vision handed down by senior management.
To remedy this, one might consider Kotter's 2nd and 3rd steps in forming a diverse, guiding coalition, and having those group members, from throughout the organization, develop the vision and strategy for change.
"When he took time to help the man up the mountain, lo, he scaled it himself." ~ Tibetan Proverb
While I might adjust this one to be more inclusive of the diverse populations with which we are fortunate to work, the sentiment rings true.
And, being a lover of endurance sports and racing in the mountains, I've found that the trek to the summit is eased by good company.
"In teamwork, silence isn't golden, it's deadly." ~ Mark Sanborn
An executive team that dismisses, or never asks for, input or feedback from its employees, risks disengagement that can result in team members who've lost the desire to contribute.
Where this occurs, the advantages that might have been found in diversity of thought are lost, and under-informed strategies become forced with little support and significant resistance.
I hope you enjoyed our 10 quotes about leadership and teamwork, and the reflections on each. Did you have a favorite?
This section of the site is an excellent foundation for developing leadership skills, understanding different types of leadership, and exploring leadership styles.
To continue your learning:
David Bohmiller, MBA, MS (he/him/his)
Founder, CEO and Consulting Executive
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Reicher, S. D., Haslam, S. A., & Platow, M. J. (2018). Shared Social Identity in Leadership. Current Opinion in Psychology, 23, 129-133. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1016/j.copsyc.2018.08.006