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Mother’s Day and Leadership

 May 6, 2021   By John Rutkiewicz


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Mother’s Day and LeadershipFor most of us, Mom was one of our very first leaders. 

Like any good leader, Mom cared for us and inspired us. She told us what the rules were. She reigned us in when we went off track. She listened. She believed in us. She made our dreams her dreams.

In celebration of Mom and Mother’s Day, we compiled this list of wise and insightful leadership quotes from inspiring women. These women come from all walks of life: business, academia, the military, the arts.

May these insights inspire you to lead greatly.

Just as Mom did for us.


Leadership is hard to define, and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader.

  • Indra Nooyi, Former CEO, PepsiCo

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

  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook

Leadership is a series of behaviors rather than a role for heroes.

  • Margaret Wheatley, American Writer, Teacher and Speaker

A brave leader is someone who says, I see you. I hear you. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m going to keep listening and asking questions.

  • Brené Brown, Research Professor, University of Houston

It’s okay to admit what you don’t know. It’s okay to ask for help. And it’s more than okay to listen to the people you lead – in fact, it’s essential.

  • Mary Barra, Chairman & CEO, General Motors

A truly conscious leader recognizes that it is not about her, but that the team is looking to her for inspiration and direction. Keeping her ego in check is essential.

  • Tamra Ryan, CEO, Women’s Bean Project

Leadership is not a person or a position. It is a complex moral relationship between people based on trust, obligation, commitment, emotion, and a shared vision of the good.

  • Joanne Ciulla, American Philosopher and Professor, Rutgers Business School

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, Former First Lady of the United States

Leadership is a two-way street, loyalty up and loyalty down.

  • Grace Murray Hopper, Former Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy

If you don’t have an evolving growth strategy, then you and your team are just driving around the block. You may be doing well, but you’re not going anywhere.

  • Shannon Byrne Susko, Serial Entrepreneur and Founder & CEO, Metronome United

Do not be afraid to make decisions. Do not be afraid to make mistakes.

  • Carly Fiorina, Former CEO, Hewlet-Packard

The worst thing you can do is cover up mistakes and pretend you’re immune from them. As a business leader, clarity and transparency are all-important.

  • Sara Blakely, Founder, Spanx

We need to accept that we don’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes. Understand that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.

  • Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO, Thrive Global  

One of the criticisms I’ve faced over the years is that I’m not aggressive enough or assertive enough or maybe somehow, because I’m empathetic, it means I’m weak. I totally rebel against that. I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong.

  • Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

The world’s most prominent women leaders show the importance of honesty, courage, impact, and decisive action in leadership.

  • Oprah Winfrey, Media Executive and Philanthropist

I don’t go by the rule book. I lead from the heart, not the head.

  • Princess Diana, Princess of Wales

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, American Singer-Songwriter


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