92 Toxic Leadership Quotes: Avoid These Mistakes


This post is all about 92 Toxic Leadership Quotes: Avoid These Mistakes. 

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These 92 toxic leadership quotes will tell you all about what makes a bad leader, and then what makes a great one.

Great leaders lead by example. They are humble, empathetic, inspirational, and they prefer to use the word “we” instead of “I”.

Toxic leaders, on the other hand, are often self-centered, and they may effortlessly create a hostile environment with their leadership style. They may micromanage, lack emotional intelligence, or take all the credit for work that they didn’t even do. Overall, they have a negative impact, and people do not value them as a leader.

If you don’t want to be a toxic leader, this post of toxic leadership quotes will show you 90+ ways you can avoid being a bad leader. This post will also show you all the ways that you can be a great leader!


92 Toxic Leadership Quotes

Toxic leaders can be detrimental to you and/or your team. Here are quotes about the importance of great leadership and why toxic leadership is so… toxic.


1. “If the only way for you to get people to do your bidding is through force or intimidation, you are neither a leader nor a boss: you are an a**hole.” – Charbel Tadros

A true leader does not need to force or intimidate people to stand behind them; people stand behind them because they are inspired to do so.


2. “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.” – Andrew Carnegie

Great leaders give credit where credit is due – they don’t take credit for everything, especially when it wasn’t them doing the work.


3. “Leadership is about vision and responsibility, not power.” – Seth Berkeley

If having power is your #1 priority, you will have a tough time being a well-rounded leader. Being a leader is about so much more than just having power.


4. “Glass, china, and reputation, are easily crack’d, and never well mended.” – Benjamin Franklin

Your reputation as a leader is a fragile thing – take good care of it.


5. “The bad leader is he who the people despise; the good leader is he who the people praise; the great leader is he who the people say, “We did it ourselves” – Peter M. Senge

Make people feel a part of your accomplishments as a leader and they will support you forever. Great leaders use the word “we” instead of the word “I” when talking about the accomplishments of their team.


6. “Great leaders are willing to sacrifice the numbers to save the people. Poor leaders sacrifice the people to save the numbers.” – Simon Sinek

Your priorities will become very clear when you are given a decision as a leader to choose between numbers or people. Choose wisely.


7. “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Empathy is a sign of a genuine leader. If you don’t have empathy, people will likely not like working for you.


8. “Always remember people who have helped you along the way, and don’t forget to lift someone up.” – Roy T. Bennett

No one gets to high places without the help of others along the way. True leaders stay humble, and when the time comes, they pay it forward and help others up, too. Never forget how you got to where you are now.


9. “Great leaders create more leaders, not followers.” –  Roy T. Bennet

Be sure that you are building people up and helping them grow as people. There’s no use in having people blindly follow you.


10. “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” –  Ronald Reagan

Great leaders know that when leading, it’s not all about them. It’s about the people they lead.


11. “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker

Great leaders are ethical. They value doing the right thing. Bad leadership often involves leaders doing whatever it takes to get where they want to go – but this isn’t usually a good long-term strategy. Successful leaders are ethical along the way.


12. “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” – General George Patton

Great leaders don’t micromanage – they give people space to learn and grow and become who they are meant to be. Bad managers and leaders love to micromanage, which does not promote healthy work cultures.


13. “Consistency is the true foundation of trust. Either keep your promises or do not make them.” – Roy T. Bennett

Good leadership requires consistency. People will remember if you do not act on your word.


14. “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry S. Truman

Good leaders never stop learning. They are always trying to better themselves.


15. “Don’t blow off another’s candle for it won’t make yours shine brighter.” – Jaachynma N.E. Agu

Good leaders never feel the need to bring others down, especially not to make themselves feel better.


Glass, china, and reputation are easily crack'd, and never well mended.
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16. “The mark of a great man is one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones.” – Brandon Sanderson

Great leaders know how to prioritize even when everything seems important.


17. “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” – Sheryl Sandberg

Bad bosses and leaders discriminate. Good leaders can be good leaders no matter their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.


18. “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

Leaders must lead by example. They can’t say they’ll do one thing and do another.


19. “I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.” – Robert E. Lee

Leaders must be incredibly self-disciplined and be a good example.


20. “Truly powerful people have great humility. They do not try to impress, they do not try to be influential. They simply are.” – Sanaya Roman

Good leaders (and great people in general) have a quiet confidence about them. They don’t need to convince anyone that they are good at what they do – they just are.


21. “Integrity is doing what is right and truthful, and doing as you say you would do.” – Roy T. Bennett

Good leaders must have integrity. If they don’t, know one will trust or follow them.


22. “The world’s greatest achievers have been those who have always stayed focused on their goals and have been consistent in their efforts.” – Dr. Roopleen

Great leaders are consistent and focused. They do not waver, and they aren’t easily distracted.


23. “Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.” – Colin Powell

Good leaders know that at the end of the day, doing the right thing is most important – even when some people may not like that.


24. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Great leaders inspire people. An inspirational, charismatic leader does not bring people down.


25. “Leaders live by choice, not by accident.” – Mark Gorman

Leaders are incredibly intentional people and they always have a plan. Bad leaders have no plan or goals.


26. “Your first and foremost job as a leader is to take charge of your own energy and then help to orchestrate the energy of those around you.” – Peter F. Drucker

Leaders are very intentional about being optimistic. They know the level of energy that they have can either get people excited, or ruin peoples’ days.


27. “One word of encouragement can be enough to spark someone’s motivation to continue with a difficult challenge.” – Roy T. Bennett

Good leaders know how important it is to encourage. They are very aware of the power that their words have.


28. “If you really want the key to success, start by doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing.” – Brad Szollose

Leaders are always questioning the “right” path. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t make it the “right” thing.


29. “If you can’t swallow your pride, you can’t lead. Even the highest mountain had animals that step on it.” – Jack Weatherford

Good leaders cannot be prideful. They know they need to be humble and that they will not always be right about everything. They do their best anyway, though.


30. “In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be, by remaining what we are.” – Max Depree

Leaders are constantly trying to improve themselves, even if that means getting out of their comfort zone more often than they’d like. Good leaders do not stay stagnant.


Management is doing things right: leadership is doing the right things.
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31. “A star wants to see himself rise to the top. A leader wants to see those around him rise to the top.” – Simon Sinek

A leader cares about much more than just herself.


32. “No matter how tiny you look, you can lead huge men if you have what the huge men don’t have.” – Michael Bassey Johnson

Good leaders know what they are capable of.


33. “Leaders always choose the harder right rather than the easier wrong.” – Orrin Woodward

If the more difficult path is the right path, great leaders will not hesitate to choose it.


34. “The power to lead is the power to mislead, and the power to mislead is the power to destroy.” – Thomas S. Monson

Leaders know that there is great responsibility that comes with their power.


35. “If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything.” – Tom Rath

Great leaders focus on what they are good at and they work to optimize those things.


36. “Real leadership is being the person others will gladly and confidently follow.” – John C. Maxwell

A sign of a great leader is that the people they lead are happy to be led by that person. Otherwise, it’s a sign that the leader may not be a good one.


37. “The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.” – Tony Blair

Strong leaders say “No” when they need to. If they always say “Yes” those they lead can lose trust in them as a leader.


38. “Always try to associate yourself with and learn as much as you can from those who know more than you do, who do better than you, who see more clearly than you.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Leaders know that they don’t know it all and they are constantly seeking advice and mentorship from those who have been at it much longer than them.


39. “Step out of your comfort zone. Comfort zones, where your unrealized dreams are buried, are the enemies of achievement. Leadership begins when you step outside your comfort zone.” – Roy T. Bennett

Great leaders are constantly getting out of their comfort zone.


40. “Always hear others out and remain open-minded; the day you think you know everything is the day you have the most yet to learn.” – A.J. Darkholme

Leaders stay humble and recognize that they don’t know everything and that oftentimes, other people can teach them something new.


41. “A leader should demonstrate his thoughts and opinions through his actions, not through his words.” – Jack Weatherford

Strong leaders don’t just talk the talk, they also walk the walk.


42. “Business leaders make one of two mistakes: overestimating or underestimating their capabilities.” – Curtis L. Jenkins

Leaders must not have low self-esteem or be careless. A healthy amount of confidence is best.


43. “Think continually about what you want, not about the things you fear.” – Brian Tracy

Great leaders are constantly planning a better future, and they never let fear stop them from pursuing what they want.


44. “There has never been a meaningful life built on easy street.” – John Paul Warren

Great leadership skills aren’t easy to obtain, and all great leaders know this.


45. “Do you know great minds enjoy excellence, average minds love mediocrity and small minds adore comfort zones?” – Onyi Anyado

Great leaders always pursue excellence.


I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.


More Toxic Leadership Quotes

Here are even more toxic leadership quotes.


46. “Hard work without a solid plan isn’t likely to get you where you want to be. You need to be teachable; you need to be dedicated, and you need to work smart.” – Curtis L. Jenkins

Great leaders work smarter, not necessarily harder.


47. “At times we relax in our comfort zone, and it takes leadership to recognize this and adjust our mindset.” – Mark Villareal

Not only do great leaders get out of their comfort zone often, but they inspire every one else to get out of their comfort zones, too.


48. “Each day you are leading by example. Whether you realize it or not or whether it’s positive or negative, you are influencing those around you.” – Rob Liano

Great leaders bring their best selves with them every day because they know that everyone is watching and taking note at all times.


49. “I must admit that I have learned more from my negative experiences than I have ever learned from my positive ones.” –  John Paul Warren

Great leaders know that negative experiences are inevitable, and that they are oftentimes teachable moments.


50. “There is too much negativity in the world. Do your best to make sure you aren’t contributing to it.” – Germany Kent

Great leaders know the importance of positivity. They want the people they lead to be optimistic and hopeful, not unhappy and down.


51. “Believe in yourself. Under-confidence leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy that you are not good enough for your work.” – Dr Roopleen

Great leaders know the importance of having confidence. They choose to believe in themselves, even when self doubt creeps in.


52. “Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.” – L. David Marquet

Great leaders make their work more about the people they lead than about themselves.


53. “What great leaders have in common is that each truly knows his or her strengths – and can call on the right strength at the right time.” – Tom Rath

Great leaders are very aware of their strengths and even their weaknesses.


54. “When you walk in silence your excellence will always speak for you.” – Onyi Anyado

Great leaders know they don’t need to talk about themselves for other people to think they’re great. Their actions speak for themselves.


55. “Leadership is self-made. People who have deliberately decided to become problem solvers lead better.” – Israelmore Ayivor

Experience makes the best leaders.


56. “The person following is never in control, which she knows full well and which is exactly why she does it.” – Sara Gruen

Good leaders know that not everyone else also wants to be a leader. They do not look down upon people for not wanting to lead themselves.


57. “The elegance under pressure is the result of fearlessness.” – Ashish Patel

Great leaders know the importance of staying calm, cool, and collected under pressure. Anything else risks them losing the respect of those they lead. A leader’s attitude is so important.


58. “Tend to the people, and they will tend to the business.” – John Maxwell

People perform much better when they are doing well outside of work, and being taken care of while at work.


59. “One person with commitment accomplishes more than a thousand with an opinion.” – Orrin Woodward

Actually taking action is what gets things done. Leaders know that doing the work is more important than simply talking about the work.


60. “Patience is a virtue not a vice.” – Agu Jaachynma N.E.

Good leaders have to be patient. They work with all different kinds of people and they don’t expect everyone to operate in the same way.


he art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.


61. “You can’t move up in the staircase of leadership unless you are emotionally intelligent.” – Amit Ray

According to VeryWellMind.com, Emotional Intelligence is “the ability to perceive, interpret, demonstrate, control, evaluate, and use emotions to communicate with and relate to others effectively and constructively”. All great leaders are emotionally intelligent.


62. “When you accept a leadership role, you take on extra responsibility for your actions toward others.” – Kelley Armstrong

Leaders do not take their role lightly. They show up to do their very best each day.


63. “You are either supporting the vision or supporting division.” – Saji Ijiyemi

Great leaders know that they need to support the goals of the larger business/organization and communicate that clearly. If they don’t, and they are misaligned with the larger business/organization, they will start to create division in those that they lead.


64. “Delegating work works, provided the one delegating works, too.” – Robert Half

Great leaders know when and how to delegate work, but they make sure that they are also taking their fair share of the work, too.


65. “The person who sees the difficulties so clearly that he does not discern the possibilities cannot inspire a vision in others.” – J. Oswald Sanders

Leaders prefer optimism over pessimism.


66. “Do you know where your breakthrough begins? Your breakthrough begins where your excuses ends.” – Patience Johnson

Leaders don’t make excuses. They learn from their mistakes and try to do better the next time.


67. “We have to be honest about what we want and take risks rather than lie to ourselves and make excuses to stay in our comfort zone.” – Roy Bennett

Leaders take risks when necessary.


68. “Don’t let your emotions get in the way of rational decision making.” – Roy Bennett

It’s important for leaders to not let their emotions overcome them. That’s when they’re more likely to make poor decisions.


69. “Without the vision of a goal, a man cannot manage his own life, much less the lives of others.” – Jack Weatherford

Great leaders are always setting goals and working toward goals.


70. “The greatest mistake we can make is to stay on the ground after falling.” – Victor Manuel Rivera

Everyone makes mistakes, even the best leaders do. But the important thing is get up, learn from your mistakes and do things differently the next time.


71. “True leaders bring out your personal best. They ignite your human potential.” – John Paul Warren

The best leaders make people want to do their best even if those people aren’t that interested in the job itself.


72. “Leaders… should influence others..in such a way that it builds people up, encourages and edifies them so they can duplicate this attitude in others.” – Bob Goshen

Not only do leaders inspire people to do their best, but they also inspire those same people to turn around and inspire others to do their best.


73. “It’s not about you. It’s about them.” – Clint Eastwood

Strong leaders always put the people they lead first.


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

Strategy and character are two seriously important qualities that all leaders should have, but the most important quality is character.


75. “You will never reach your dreams without honoring others along the way.” – John Paul Warren

Strong leaders always give credit where credit is due.


There is too much negativity in the world.  Do your best to make sure you aren't contributing to it.


76. “Our expectation in ourselves must be higher than our expectation in others.” – Victor Manuel Rivera

Great leaders hold themselves to a high standard, and that is how they are always improving.


77. “There are two reasons someone might follow a leader: Obligation or inspiration. Obligation is when you have to follow a leader. Inspiration is when you want to follow a leader.” – Nick Chellsen

Effective leaders are able to gain support because of inspiration, not obligation.


78. “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

All great leaders strive for excellence.


79. “Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but, leave him when he is wrong.” – Abraham Lincoln

Great leaders know that people shouldn’t blindly follow them. Leaders have to consistently serve their people and serve them well in order to be followed long-term.


80. “Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs

Great leaders know that the best things ever done are done by a team – seldom are the best things done by one person alone.


81. “The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.” – Padmasree Warrior

Great leaders have a growth mindset – they are always willing to learn new things. Bad leaders don’t care to develop their skills and they would rather not challenge themselves or grow.


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

A great leader inspires people so well that even when they are gone, their team members know what they need to do.


83. “You are never too small to make a difference.” – Greta Thunberg

Anyone can be a leader and make an impact.


84. “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody.” – Herbert Swope

A big part of a leader’s job is knowing that you will not be liked by everyone. Leaders have to make decisions that are true to themselves and what they believe is best even if that means some people will disapprove.


85. “We aim above the mark to hit the mark.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Smart leaders and smart people know that if you aim for the moon, you’d fall amongst the stars. It is better to aim high than to not aim at all when it comes to goal setting.


86. “Leadership must first and foremost meet the needs of others.” – Robert K. Greenleaf

In the simplest terms, a leader must care about their people.


87. Anyone can make a mistake…. It’s how they learn from it and recover from it that shows their true worth. – John Flanagan

Anyone can make a mistake or a wrong decision but it is how a leader handles it that shows their true character.


88. “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” – Stephen Covey

Toxic leaders don’t have the trust of their team members/employees.


89. “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” – George Bernard Shaw

Smart leaders know that mistakes are inevitable, and they do their best to learn from them. Toxic leaders often take mistakes too seriously.


90. “Good leadership is pervasive, persuasive, and persistent. Bad leadership is poisoned with pedanticism, posturing, self-importance.” – Marcia Whicker

Toxic leaders make leadership all about themselves while great leaders know that leadership is about so much more than just them.


We aim above the mark to hit the mark.


91. “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses – only results.” – Ken Blanchard

Great leaders are committed – they do whatever it takes to get the job done.


92. “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” – Ken Blanchard

Great leaders know that leadership is not about inciting fear, but about influencing people positively to follow along.


This post was all about 92 Toxic Leadership Quotes: Avoid These Mistakes.


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A few years after graduating college, Taylor made it her mission to become debt free. After paying off all $60k of debt, she began to blog about what she's really passionate about: personal development. Nowadays, Taylor blogs about the topics of Mindset, Money, Health, and Career for women. Read more about Taylor here.

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