From the Backlist: Favorite Quotes by Women about Leadership

Nobody-cares-if-you-cant-dance-well.-Just-get-up-and-dance.-Great-dancers-are-not-great-because-of-their-technique-they-are-great-because-of-their-passion-Martha-Graham-quoteApril: My daughter’s PTA just sent an email saying they are decorating her school with quotes about leadership. The email listed 17 quotes and asked if anyone had any other quotes to suggest. All 17 quotes are by men. I think I need to make a lot of suggestions to balance it out. Anyone have any fave quotes by women about leadership? It looks like anything related to vision, hard work or integrity counts.

Deborah:  This is from a rotating list of quotes I used to have in up in my classroom:

Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.
Martha Graham, American choreographer

If you can't feed a hundred people than feed just one. Mother TeresaIf you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
Mother Teresa, Humanitarian

Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.
Emily Dickinson, Poet

You gain strength, courage, and confidence every time you stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady

Anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve.
J.K. Rowling, Author

I knew someone had to take the first step.
Rosa Parks, Civil Rights Activist

Preparation is two-thirds of any venture.
Amelia Earhart, Pilot

I never intended to become a run-of-the-mill person.
Barbara Jordan

We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily difference we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.
Marian Wright Edelman, Children’s Defense Fund

Spunky:  LOVE the E. Roosevelt quote Deborah included.

Some other fun ones:

Service is a limitless opportunity; it is the reason why we breathe.
Michelle Obama

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
Marianne Williamson

Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing.
Helen Keller

margaret mead

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

Barbara BushAnd I just love this one… though not really– anyway- I love it:

[at Wellesley College Commencement] Somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the President’s spouse. I wish him well!
Barbara Bush

Rachel:  Maybe you already saw this post with these five beautiful quotes from five beautiful (and strong) women?

April: I responded to the PTA with these quotes and this note: “Thank you so much for all the work you are doing.  I love the idea to decorate the school with quotes about leadership.  Looking at the list, I noticed that there were many great quotes but none of the quotes were from women.  Here are some women’s quotes to consider…”

I was pretty excited to find out if they chose any of these quotes from female leaders, but alas, all of the quotes they put up throughout the whole school were quotes by men. Thankfully, my kids have me and my Exponent sisters to teach them that women lead, too.

April Young-Bennett
April Young-Bennett
April Young-Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series and host of the Religious Feminism Podcast. Learn more about April at


  1. Note: There appears to be a redirect on the amazing link Rachel suggested. If you follow the link and get to a homepage with a search box, just type “not just a girl” into the box and it will pull up that great post with quotes and photos.

  2. Thank you for this great post. I am doing young womens camp with the theme of “Strong in the Lord” and focusing on superheroes. I wanted to put up inspiring quotes about courage and leadership in the mess hall; these are a great start to the task.

    • I like your superhero theme! We did that last year (Superheroes go and do) but because it was Book of Mormon themed, there really weren’t any women to pick from. That made me a little sad in a GIRLS camp situation. Good for you for putting up inspiring messages from women!

      • We’re focusing on Armor of God and the forces of good and evil- recognizing the battle and Satan’s forces, armoring yourself with righteousness, developing your personality and individuality into strengths (quiet people can be good listeners, risk takers can be entrepreneurs, etc), and following the Savior’s example into service to others. I challenged my youth leaders to find all women heroes to do on our spiritual walk, it’s hard to make a list of powerful women in the scriptures when so many don’t have names! But I’m hoping they can still find a way to translate the trials and courage from the scriptures into teenager devotionals.

  3. That’s so disappointing that went with only quotes by men. Especially when there are such great ones by women:
    “Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression.” -Margaret Sanger

    “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

    “If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.” —Maya Angelou

    “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

    When I’ve been unsuccessful, I’ve been controlled. When I’ve been successful, I’ve been in control. -Katherine Hepburn

    “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” -Maya Angelou

    “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” -Anne Frank

  4. I like all the quotes listed, but none of them are really about Leadership. It seems to me that they don’t really fit what the school might have been looking for.

  5. What a great list! And, I don’t think quotes need to necessarily say the words “leader” or “leadership” to count, but here are a few I liked after a quick Google search. (Hopefully, they just already printed up the posters and now they’ll be ready for next year with your excellent suggestions.)

    “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

    “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” Mother Teresa

    “Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it.” Marian Anderson

    “Some leaders are born women.” Geraldine Ferraro

    “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” Marie Curie

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Click to subscribe for new post alerts.

Click to subscribe to our magazine, in circulation since 1974.

Related Posts

Guys and, erm, Dolls?

Ma'am Missus Miss Ms Woman Girl Lady Female Gal Recently my attention was drawn to a book review where the reviewer shares this experience. One night...

Guest Post: Why Heavenly Mother is Essential: Part 7

Guest Post by McArthur Krishna, McArthur comes from a pack of storytellers. And while the pack rightly insists she’s only in the running for...


When I told my five-year-old we could work on bikes this week, I had no idea I would be blindsided by nostalgia. A friend...

A Love Letter to My Fellow Mo-Fems

I just wanted to send off a quick missive to let you know that I see you, and I love you. I see that you...
submit guest post
Submit a Guest Blog Post
subscribe to our magazine
Subscribe to Our Magazine
Social Media Auto Publish Powered By :