22 Servant leadership quotes to inspire and guide

These servant leadership quotes will inspire you and guide you to find our own success: in work and life.

Or, for a different kind of inspiration, take a look at these servant leadership examples.

First developed in 1970 by Robert Greenleaf, servant leadership is increasingly relevant to the challenges that leaders face. As a result it’s continuing to evolve and develop, with new thinkers and writers providing their own perspective. For example: these 10 convincing reasons to consider servant leadership (according to the research).

Let’s start at the beginning.

Servant leadership quotes from Robert Greenleaf

The first and most important choice a leader makes is the choice to serve, without which one’s capacity to lead is severely limited.

The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. 

Leadership must first and foremost meet the needs of others.

Nothing much happens without a dream. For something really great to happen, it takes a really great dream.

The best leaders are clear. They continually light the way, and in the process, let each person know that what they do makes a difference.

Servant leadership quotes from great business thinkers

Servant leadership is all about making the goals clear and then rolling your sleeves up and doing whatever it takes to help people win. In that situation, they don’t work for you; you work for them.

Ken Blanchard

People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.

John C. Maxwell

Organizations exist to serve. Period. Leaders live to serve. Period.

Tom Peters

Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.

Simon Sinek

Leaders don’t create followers. They create more leaders.

Tom Peters

Success is… knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others. 

John C. Maxwell

More on the 10 characteristics of servant leadership.

Servant leadership quotes from political, social and religious leaders

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

Winston Churchill

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.

Harry Truman

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

Mahatma Gandhi

Life’s most urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?

Martin Luther King, Jr.

A leader… is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.

Nelson Mandela

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

John Quincy Adams

CEO servant leadership quotes

As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.

Bill Gates, Microsoft

Treat employees like they make a different and they will.

Jim Goodnight, SAS

Success is empty if you arrive at the finish line alone. The best reward is to get there surrounded by winners.

Howard Schultz, Starbucks

I’m learning that to be a CEO is to be a servant. My main job is to support our employees, and be a support to our clients and to our consumers.

 Sylvia Metayer, Sodexo Corporate Services Worldwide

Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.

Richard Branson, Virgin

To dive deeper, take a look at the pros and cons of servant leadership.