Catalyst Quotes

Compiled by Alex Pena ~ ‘Catalyst’: “to spark, to ignite, energize, mobilize; something that accelerates a reaction (DDI)." Thought-provoking & motivational quotes and stories for you to read, reflect on and move forward in making creative and positive changes in your life.

Archive for the category “Leadership”

“A Leader is Best When …”

“There are five practices common to most extraordinary leadership achievements.  When leaders do their best, they challenge, inspire, enable, model, and encourage.”     (Kouses & Posner, The Leadership Challenge)



“The key elements in the art of working together are how to deal with change, how to deal with conflict, and how to reach our potential … the needs of the team are best met when we meet the needs of individual persons.”     (Max DePree)



“The so-called … boss should become the humble servant leader who ‘runs alongside,’ asking questions such as:

  • How is it going?
  • What are you learning?
  • What are your goals?
  • How can I help you?
  • How am I doing as a helper?

It is when the spirit of servant leadership takes hold in a team, and between a manager or team and an associate, that … trust fully blossoms.”     (The 8th Habit, From Effectiveness to Greatness, Stephen R. Covey)



“A leader is best when people barely know he exists.

Not so good when people obey and acclaim him.

Worse when they despise him.

But of a good leader who talks little,

When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,

They will say “We did it ourselves.”     (Lao Tzu)



“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”     (Henry Kissinger)



“To lead the people, walk beside them.”     (Lao Tzu)



“Be A Change Catalyst; It Is An Attitude”

“Leadership is not so much about technique and method as it is about opening the heart.  Leadership is about inspiration — of oneself and of others.  Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes.  Leadership is not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others.  It is an attitude, not a routine.”     (Lance Secretan)



“It’s not always easy to do the right thing.  But, doing the right thing makes you strong, it builds character, it forces you to make decisions based upon your beliefs and not what other people think.  In life, and in business, you have to stand for what you believe in and sometimes you have to stand alone.  But, what makes you a leader is having the courage of your convictions.”    (Queen Latifah)



“Do not follow where the path may lead.  Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”     (Ralph Waldo Emerson)



“I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a ‘transformer’ in any situation, any organization.  Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf.  It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.”      (Stephen R. Covey)



“To know how to do a job is the accomplishment of labor;

To be able to tell others is the accomplishment of the teacher;

To inspire others to do better work is the accomplishment of management;

To be able to do all three is the accomplishment of leadership.”     (Unknown Author)



“Our duty as men is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist.  We are collaborators in creation.”     (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)


“Leadership – Controlling or Serving?”

“The climb to the top is arduous and long.  People become exhausted, frustrated and disenchanted.  They often are tempted to give up.  Leaders must encourage the heart of their followers to carry on.

People do not start their work each day with a desire to lose.  It is part of the leader’s job to show them that they can win.”       (Encouraging the Heart, The Leadership Challenge, Kouses & Posner)



“What is it most of us really want from work?  We would like to find the most effective, most productive, most rewarding way of working together.  We would like to know that our work process uses all of the appropriate and pertinent resources:  human, physical, financial.  We would like a work process and relationships that meet our personal needs for belonging, for contributing, for meaningful work, for the opportunity to make a commitment, for the opportunity to grow and be at least reasonably in control of our own destinies.  Finally, we’d like someone to say ‘Thank you!’”     (Leadership is an Art, Max De Pree)



“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.”     (Dee Hock, Founder and CEO Emeritus, Visa)



“Leadership builds a community of purpose.  Management builds a community capable of purpose.”     (Ready to Lead? A Story for Leaders and Their Mentors by Alan Price)



“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.

The last is to say thank you.

In between, the leader is a servant.”     (Leadership is an Art, Max De Pree)


“Believe; Action is Eloquence”


“There is no use trying, said Alice; one can’t believe impossible things.  I dare say you haven’t had much practice, said the Queen.  When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”     (Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll)


“Live out of your imagination, not your history.”     (Stephen Covey)


“First say to yourself what you would be; then do what you have to do.”     (Epictetus)


“Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.”    (Tom Landry)


“Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal.  Live this day as if it were your last.  The past is over and gone.  The future is not guaranteed.”     (Wayne Dyer)


“People are watching the way we act more than they are listening to what we say.”     (Max Lucado)


“In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.”    (Stephen Covey)


“Action is eloquence.”       (William Shakespeare)


“Face It, Suffer Now, Be a Champion!”


“The first step in handling anything is gaining the ability to face it.”

(L. Ron Hubbard) 



“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit.  Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”     (Muhammad Ali)



There are only two options regarding commitment.  You’re either IN or you’re OUT.  There is no such thing as life in-between.”     (Pat Riley)



“Said a disappointed visitor, ‘Why has my stay here yielded no fruit?’

‘Could it be because you lacked the courage to shake the tree?’ said the Master benignly.”     (Anthony de Mello)



“Walk on road, hmmm?

Walk left side, safe.  Walk right side, safe.

Walk middle; sooner or later get squish just like grape.

Here, karate, same thing.

Either you karate do ‘yes’ or karate do ‘no.’

You karate do ‘guess so,’ squish just like grape.  Understand?”

(Miyagi, “Karate Kid” movie)



“Dreams are illustrations, from the book your soul is writing about you.”

(Marsha Norman)


“Blank Fortune Cookies”


“A wise old sage hosted a dinner.  Toward the end of the meal, everyone was given fortune cookies and told that they’re holding their future in their hands.  The guests eagerly opened them to read the words of wisdom they contained.  The paper slips inside each cookie were blank.

‘Is this a joke?’ they asked.  ‘Is our fortune so bleak or so full of emptiness?’  ‘That’s up to each of you. The choice is yours,’ the sage replied.  ‘Many people are eager to have soothsayers predict their future.  Fewer are willing to take responsibility for writing their own fortune.  Your future is a blank sheet of paper waiting for you to create what is to come.”     (“When Choosing Our Thoughts We Choose Our Future,” Jim Clemmer, Practical Leadership Blog)



“… if there’s one overarching message arising from more than six thousand years of corporate history across all our research … it would be this: greatness is not primarily a matter of circumstance; greatness is first and foremost a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”     (Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck — Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen)



“What used to be called the ‘soft issues’ of business will increasingly be the differentiators of sustainable excellence in every industry in the word …  Ultimately – after the technology is in place, our organizations are well structured, and all processes are flowing smoothly – what will make or break any business will be the spirit of the people who do the work.”    (Tom Morris, If Aristotle Ran General Motors


“Ten Secrets for Success & Five Practices on Leadership”


Tips/Secrets for Success in the Workplace –

1.      “No matter what the situation, always act as you think the chairman would act.”

2.      “Think big … act big … and big things happen.”

3.      “Your example is more important than your advice.”

4.      “The carrot is a hundred times more effective than the stick, and you don’t have to worry about being hit back.”

5.      “One of the biggest mistakes you can make in business is to not compliment your employees — often.”

6.      “Leadership is action, not position.”

7.      “Treat your employees as you treat your boss.”

8.      “Never let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.”

9.      “Reward employees who have good ideas.  It’s contagious.”

10.   “Worry about the careers of those who work for you and then yours will thrive.”  (Why Climb the Corporate Ladder When You Can Take the Elevator:  500 Secrets for Success in Business, John M. Capozzi)



“The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership –

     1.      Model the Way

     2.      Inspire a Shared Vision

     3.      Challenge the Process

     4.      Enable Others to Act

     5.      Encourage the Heart”             (James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner)


“Inspire Them to Greatness”


“The test of a good manager is to make ordinary people perform better than what seems to be their capability, to bring out the strengths they have, and to use each employee’s own internal desires to inspire them to greatness.”       (Luke De Sadeleer and Joseph Sherren, “Vitamin C for a Healthy Workplace”)



My Team Needs to KNOW:

Do I have a clear view of the future I am striving to create, and does my team share that view?

My Team Needs to GROW:

Are my team members more valuable to each other, to the company, and to themselves today than they were a year ago?

My Team Needs to OWN:

Do the people on my team perform like hired hands or as if they’re partners in business with me?”       (Lost & Found, Lyle Sussman, Sam Deep & Alex Stiber)


“Every Person Counts”


“Leaders focus on the soft stuff.   People.  Values.  Character.  Commitment.  A Cause.  All of the stuff that was supposed to be too goo-goo to count in business.  Yet, it’s the stuff that real leaders take care of first.  And forever.  That’s why leadership is an art, not a science.  If leadership were just about hitting your numbers, about driving the troops to meet their quotas, then leadership would just be a math problem.  But leadership is a human mystery.”        (Tom Peters)



“What’s important in leadership is refining your skills.  All great leaders keep working on themselves until they become effective.  Here are some specifics:

  •  Learn to be strong but not rude.
  • Learn to be kind but not weak.
  • Learn to be bold but not a bully.
  • You’ve got to learn to be humble, but not timid.
  • Be proud but not arrogant.
  • Develop humor without folly.
  • Lastly, deal in realities.  Deal in truth.”        (Jim Rohn)



“The person who advances is not the one who is afraid to do too much; it is the one whose conscience will not permit him to do too little, the one whose driving desire is to give the best that is in him, even though it may seem at times like casting bread upon unrelenting waters.”    (B. C. Forbes)



“Some of you are itching to ask me exactly the wrong questions, which are:  ‘How do I do this?’  ‘How do I get my boss to let me do this?’  ‘What’s the risk-free way to insinuate myself into the system so I get approval to make change?’  Surely, there’s a method of making change without being burned at the stake?   It turns out that there is, but you already know what it is.   Belief.   Nobody is going to listen to your idea for change, sagely shake his head, and say, ‘Sure, go do that.’   No one anoints you as leader.  Change isn’t made by asking permission.  Change is made by asking forgiveness, later.”       (Seth Godin, Tribes, We Need YOU to Lead Us)



“The idea flow from the human spirit is absolutely unlimited.  All you have to do is tap into that well.  I don’t like to use the word efficiency.  It’s creativity.  It’s a belief that every person counts.”      (Jack Welch, Business Week)


“Life Isn’t Fair – What Are You Doing About It?”

“Life isn’t fair.  Whatever hits the fan certainly won’t be evenly distributed.  The best approach to dealing with things that cannot be changed is to accept them.  The worst thing we can do is to succumb to the Victimitis Virus and “awfulize” the situation by throwing pity parties in Pity City.  When the doo-doo starts to pile deep, a leader doesn’t just sit there and complain (usually about ‘them’); he or she grabs a shovel.  We may not choose what happens to us, but we do choose how to respond – or not.”    (Jim Clemmer, “Accept What Can’t Be Changed and Change What Can Be”)



“God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.    Amen.”       (Author Unknown)



“This is the art of courage:  to see things as they are and still believe that the victory lies not with those who avoid the bad, but those who taste, in living awareness, every drop of the good.”      (Victoria Lincoln)



“Note how good you feel after you have encouraged someone else. No other argument is necessary to suggest that never miss the opportunity to give encouragement.”      (George Burton Adams)



“I’m ready to own my own power, to say ‘This is who I am.’  If you like, you like it.  And if you don’t, you don’t.  So watch out, I’m gonna fly.”      (Oprah Winfrey)

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