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Leadership advice quotes: 17 of the best you’ll ever receive


Along the course of a career, you’ve probably had the good fortune of receiving a little nugget of golden insight, or perhaps, a tip here and there from a boss, manager or other respected colleague.

But it’s not like executives are just strolling down the hall, coffee cup in hand, spouting management advice at passersby. Truly good leadership advice can be a rare find.

That’s why we’ve asked several leaders within Insperity, “What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?”

Go ahead and indulge your knowledge-hungry minds on the 17 responses we collected below.

17 of the best leadership advice quotes ever given

1. Form your own opinions

“Go into every relationship, whether business or personal, with your eyes open and willing to see people for who they are, not who others say they are. Form your own opinions, don’t let others influence you. I truly believe this has helped me work with all different types of people.”

Kathi Farinacci | Customer Relationship Manager, Customer Relationship COE

2. Seek commitment, not compliance

“Managers can achieve compliance from their employees, which is merely getting people to do what they’re supposed to do. But when managers lead their people to truly commit to their work, they get them to do MORE because they want to, not because they have to. Commitment = engagement.”

Dawn Motsiff  | Senior Human Resource Specialist, Eastern Business Team
Atlanta, Georgia

3. Get out of your office

“Many years ago I was hired as a human resources manager for a retail convenience store chain. There were seven people in our department. We served 350 stores in three states. My boss was a rather gruff gentleman named Dave. The day I started he said to me, ‘here’s your office and I’d better not ever see you in it.’”

Rick Gibbs | SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Performance Specialist, Field Service Operations
New York, New York

4. Make decisions with your people in mind

“If you do what’s right for the individual, you’ll have done what’s right for the company. A well-seasoned engineering VP told me that many years ago, at a time when we were considering making some ‘non-traditional’ organizational changes. I’ve always remembered it.”

Ramona Bilgram | Manager, HR Services
St. Louis, Missouri

5. Celebrate success

“Have fun and celebrate success.”

Jeff Miller | Director, Learning and Performance, Service Operations

6. Do the right thing

“Always do the right thing, every day, for yourself and your clients/customers.”

Sharon Basile | PHR, SHRM-CP, Senior HR Specialist, Field Service Operations
Chicago, Illinois

7. Inspire greatness

“You can demand the backs and hands of employees, but they volunteer their hearts and minds. Great leaders have the ability to tap into the latent talents and energies of people in a way that unleashes discretionary effort. In this way, organizations can move past mediocrity and towards greatness.”

Frank McCollough | Business Performance Consultant, Mid-Market Solutions
St. Louis, Missouri

8. Align passion with purpose

“If you can align your passion with your purpose, you will find fulfillment in whatever you choose to do in life. When a job starts to feel like a ‘job’ you should evaluate whether or not you feel you’re aligned with your ‘purpose’ in life. Not having alignment with your purpose affects who you are as a person and a professional.”

Shannon Cook | SPHR, Customer Relationship Manager, Customer Relationship COE
Kingwood, Texas

9. Embrace discomfort

“We all have activities or situations that we avoid because we’re afraid or feel uncomfortable. Those are the ones we need to tackle first, and with gusto. Embrace discomfort and you will triumph with confidence.”

Corinn Price | Director, Community Involvement
Kingwood, Texas

10. Be real

“Be authentic and be accessible.”

Jeff Miller | Director, Learning and Performance, Service Operations

11. Get to know your people

“Stay close to the people who are doing the real work in your organization.”

Rick Gibbs | SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Performance Specialist, Field Service Operations
New York, New York

12. Be yourself

“You can’t really copy anyone else’s style effectively, no matter how much you look up to him or her.”

Bob McIntyre | Director, Service Operations
Rosemont, Illinois

13. Influence with your vision

“Leaders must have vision, creativity and the ability to influence others to follow and support them into uncharted and often risky territory.”

Nick Venturella | Sales and Marketing Supervisor, ITA

14. Know when change is needed

“Sometimes the only way to change people is to change the people.”

Ted Weinberger | Director, Compensation Services

15. Be honest

“Be genuine in your leadership. If you have to deliver a tough message, be honest and truthful.”

Ray Brock | Director, Safety Services
Kingwood, Texas

16. Show gratitude

“Never underestimate the importance of the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Using them demonstrates a level of respect that people desire and appreciate, which can help build trust.”

Michael Timmes | Senior Human Resource Specialist
Florham Park, New Jersey

17. Critique with sensitivity

“Be honest and candid while still maintaining your employees’ self-esteem.”

Jeff Miller | Director, Learning & Performance, Service Operations

Pay it forward

The next time you’ve reached a business impasse as a leader, take out this list. Apply it. Conquer.

Then add your experience, what you learned. Repeat.

Pretty soon, you’ll be the leader sharing the advice rather than seeking it.

Planning for future prosperity

The best way to turn leadership advice into action? Make it official.

Download our free e-book, How to develop a top-notch workforce that will accelerate your business, to learn how to put in place a long-term HR strategy that supports future growth and a winning corporate culture.

Tell us about it

Got leadership advice of your own?

Share it with us. Leave a comment on Twitter using #TipsToLeadBy. We can’t wait to hear from you!