Leadership Quotes and Jokes
The Water Cooler

In this more light-hearted section of the site, we present some leadership quotes which have inspired us and leadership jokes which have amused us - and some which have both inspired and amused! We hope they do the same for you. 

They are certainly all food for thought, and we will be adding to this section by commenting and drawing lessons for us as leaders. We also invite you to share your own leadership quotes below. This is one of the reasons we've called this section The Water Cooler - the place for you to hang out and talk about leadership issues affecting you and the world around us.

So, here's our current selection of leadership quotes - click the name for more information (external links mainly to Wikipedia)


Richard Branson

Founder of the Virgin brand and group of companies, Richard is one of the world's most respected - and liked - entrepreneurs and leaders.

“My favourite definition of a leader is somebody who can empower people’s ideas in order to fuel success.”

“Don’t be afraid of failure, great leaders are truly those who learn the art of turning failure into success.”

“Find ways to empower your peers,  your colleagues and your communities to achieve success in the goals you set for yourselves…”

“There must be a shared responsibility, a commitment of working together and learning from each other whether or not we agree 100% of the time.”


Winston Churchill

Britain's famous war time prime minister and one of history's greatest leaders.

"Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry."

“Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.”

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”


Henry Ford

Founder of Ford Motor Company, a dogmatic yet charismatic leader who certainly knew how to get the most out of people.

“I’m looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.”

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”


Paul Sloane

Author and public speaker on lateral thinking. His book The Leader's Guide to Lateral Thinking Skills is a must for any leader.

“Leadership is not just about command and control - it is about inspiring your team to make the vision a reality by conceiving and implementing creative solutions never thought possible.”


Dee Hock

Founder and former CEO of Visa credit cards, Dee Hock pioneered a style of leadership and organisation he called chaord, combining the words chaos and order, representing neither rigid control nor anarchy. We thoroughly approve of what he has to say on leadership:

"Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers."



Ok, no jokes yet, so here’s one to whet your appetite while we hunt for some good leadership jokes. It’s actually an anecdote told by former US President Ronald Reagan, renowned for his joke and story telling:

“Howard Baker told me, on the steps of the Capitol, at the time of the Inaugural, ‘Mr President, I want you to know, I will be with you through thick’. And I said ‘What about thin?’. He said ‘Welcome to Washington!’”

More from the Leadership Zone:

What is leadership?

The importance of Leadership and Learning

Leader blogs


What's your favourite leadership quote or joke?

Do you have any good leadership quotes, jokes or comments? Why not share them?


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