• Sarah O'Brien

Leadership 101

Updated: Mar 28, 2020

Everyone has a different definition of leadership. Great authors and leaders have used words like empathy, courage, emotional intelligence, strategy, and character when defining leadership greats. I too have found commonality of value and character in the leaders I have been blessed to know in my life. And while the characteristics and values mentioned above are certainly something to consider, I believe unequivocally that true leaders value others above all else.

It's difficult to brag on yourself. But I am a leader. I think the key to being recognized as such lies solely in my commitment to others in my field, my community, my team, and my organization. Unfortunately there are so many individuals put into leadership positions who are consumed by power, greed, and their own personal value, or lack thereof. It's unfortunate that they walk among us, parading around making those around them feel defeated and inferior. So I hope that those who haven't yet had the opportunity to be a servant leader can rise above their own personal desires and put their needs aside in service to others. Okay enough rambling for tonight. I have created a compilation of some of my favorite quotes about servant leadership just because. So here you are:

“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence, and inspiration.”

— Robin S. Sharma, Canadian writer and motivational speaker

“Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed.”

— Mwai Kibaki, Kenyan politician

“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, South African political leader

“Become the kind of leader that other people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or positon.”

— Brian Tracy, motivational speaker, best-selling author and personal development expert

“Strategic leaders must not get consumed by the operational and tactical side of their work. They have a duty to find time to shape the future.”

— Stephanie S. Mead, Senior Vice President of CMOE

“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.”

— Dolly Parton, actress and singer

“What I have learned is that people become motivated when you guide them to the source of their own power and when you make heroes out of employees who personify what you want to see in the organization.”

— Anita Roddick, co-founder of The Body Shop

“Well-behaved women rarely make history.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States

“Leadership is the ability to guide others without force into a direction or decision that leaves them still feeling empowered and accomplished.”

— Lisa Cash Hanson, CEO of Snuggwugg and founder of Mompreneur Mogul

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence, and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”

— Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

“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, former Prime Minister, UK

“Ultimately, a leader is not judged so much by how well he or she leads, but by how well he or she serves.”

― Kevin Cashman, CEO at Korn Ferry and author

“We treat our people like royalty. If you honor and serve the people who work for you, they will honor and serve you.”

—Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics

“True leaders understand that leadership is not about them but about those they serve. It is not about exalting themselves but about lifting others up.”

— Sheri L. Dew, President & CEO of Deseret Book Company

“My research debunks the myth that many people seem to have . . . that you become a leader by fighting your way to the top. Rather, you become a leader by helping others to the top.

― William Cohen

“A person who is worthy of being a leader wants power not for himself, but in order to be of service.”

― Sam J. Ervin, Jr., former U.S. senator

“Servant-leadership is all about making the goals clear and then rolling your sleeves up and doing whatever it takes to help people win. In that situation, they don’t work for you, you work for them.”

― Ken Blanchard, management expert and author

“Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader.”

– General George S. Patton

“Clarity and simplicity are the antidotes to complexity and uncertainty.”

– General George Casey

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

– General George S. Patton

“It is necessary for us to learn from others’ mistakes. You will not live long enough to make them all yourself.”

— Admiral Hyman G. Rickover

“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But, if you must be without one, be without strategy.”

— General Norman Schwarzkopf

"The best leaders treat people the best."

- Kent Julian


Sarah served as a Texas Main Street manager for over a decade and is a proud two-time Past President of the Texas Downtown Association. She lives in Smithville Texas and has worked in local government. community development, destination management and downtown revitalization across the State of Texas. She is a motivational speaker, consensus builder, and visionary problem solver who helps organizations and communities understand their purpose and achieve collective impact.

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