“Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.” – General George Patton

There are few challenges in life that rival the crucible of leadership. Long hours, a seemingly endless array of problems to solve, and all the risk inherent to decision-making. For many, leadership is make-or-break, where you either rise to the occasion or fail under the weight of responsibility.

Have you ever noticed how the best leaders are just as good at conveying their thoughts? That they seem to have a singular way with words? Great leaders tend to say what they mean and mean what they say, speaking in a manner that resonates broadly among their followers (and admirers, frankly) and standing behind those words with a steadfastness that adds to the timelessness of their convictions.

Words That TRanscend Generations – Five Leadership Quotes

It’s more than character. It’s more than just clever words. Great leaders speak with powerful meaning that transcends generations. There’s a reason why the words of Aristotle are as important today as they were when he spoke them. Napoleon’s leadership philosophy will always be the subject of intense study. Patton may have had his flaws, but he could talk leadership like few others.

We study their words, seeking insight as much as inspiration. Can we harness the spark that made them who they were? Can we find in them the leader we hope to become? Can we be all we can be?

1. “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” —General Dwight Eisenhower.

Motivation is an art. The best leaders could fill the Louvre with motivational works of art. They’re that good.

2. “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” — Jim Rohn.

Leadership is a sacred trust you have to earn each and every day. Be worthy.

3. “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” — General Colin Powell.

As a leader, your job is to solve problems. If you’re not solving problems, then you’re not doing your job.

4. “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” — John F. Kennedy.

A leader who isn’t learning, isn’t growing. A leader who isn’t growing, isn’t really leading.

5. “You manage things; you lead people.” — Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper.

Leadership and management are two completely different things. It’s important to know the difference.

Leadership is an Art

We often forget that much of leadership is art, not science. Finding inspiration in the great artists of our past is no different for leaders than it is for painters or sculptors. For leaders, though, that inspiration can’t be found hanging in a museum or mounted on a pedestal, but in the words of the great leaders who came before us.

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Steve Leonard is a former senior military strategist and the creative force behind the defense microblog, Doctrine Man!!. A career writer and speaker with a passion for developing and mentoring the next generation of thought leaders, he is a co-founder and emeritus board member of the Military Writers Guild; the co-founder of the national security blog, Divergent Options; a member of the editorial review board of the Arthur D. Simons Center’s Interagency Journal; a member of the editorial advisory panel of Military Strategy Magazine; and an emeritus senior fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point. He is the author, co-author, or editor of several books and is a prolific military cartoonist.