Small business growth – quotes on Management

Leader/Manager Development

Zig Ziglar:

Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.

Louis Pasteur:

Fortune favours the prepared mind.

Mark twain:

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.

African Proverb:

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are  lion or gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running.


Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image.

Margaret Thatcher:

Power is like being a lady; if you have to say you are, you aren’t.

Jack Welch:

No company, large or small, can succeed over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.


We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.


Stephen Vincent Benet:

If you take a flat map
And move wooden blocks upon it strategically,
The thing looks well, the blocks behave as they should.
The science of war is moving live men like blocks.
And getting the blocks into place at a fixed moment.
But it takes time to mold your men into blocks
And flat maps turn into country where creeks and gullies
Hamper your wooden squares. They stick in the brush,
They are tired and rest, they straggle after ripe blackberries,
And you cannot lift them up in your hand and move them.
It is all so clear in the maps, so clear in the mind,
But the orders are slow, the men in the blocks are slow
To move, when they start they take too long on the way -
The General loses his stars, and the block-men die
In unstrategic defiance of martial law
Because still used to just being men, not block parts.

Ronald Reagan:

It’s not easy, but it is simple.

George Fisher:

The most important management lesson I have learned in the last 25 years is that success is driven not so much by technology or one idea, but by people. A good company is driven by the needs and desires of customers, which are met by a well-trained, well-focused and creative workforce.


Jim Collins:

People are not your most important asset. The right people are. Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.

Richard Branson:

There’s no rule book.  The past is the past.  We can’t preserve it; it would be silly for us to try. But what we can do is look for the next generation of the right sort of people. Like everybody else, we’re looking for dedication, and belief, and a willingness to go that extra mile for colleagues and customers. But we keep certain other thoughts in mind, too. It seems to me that when you love what you do, you’re too busy to stand on your dignity. When you’re good at what you do, you don’t worry so much about you image. So I think it’s a positive sign whyen people don’t take themselves that seriously.

Across the whole Virgin Group, we encourage people to take ownership of the issues that they confront in their working lives. In a service-led industry especially, this kind of attitude pays huge dividends. I think if people are properly and regularly recognised for their initiative, then the business has to flourish.  Why? Because it’s their business; an extension of their personality. They have a stake in its success. Herb Keller of Southwest Airlines in the US once said: ‘It’s difficult to change someone’s attitude – so hire for attitude and train for skill.’ I’ve talked a little bit about what I look for in people, but there’s one key quality I haven’t mentioned yet, and this might surprise some people: it’s discipline.

Mark Horstman:

Interviewing is an artificial reality designed to keep people out.

Robert Sutton, in ‘The No Asshole Rule’ book:

Some organisations use the censored version of the [no asshole] rule, calling it ‘no jerks’. But at least one renowned company uses an even more outrageous term (at least to my ears). Robert Care is CEO of Australian and Asian operations for the engineering firm ARUP, which has applied its technical prowess to iconic structures like the Sydney Opera House and the Water Cube in Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games. In 2007, Care wrote me that he was inspired by the Sydney Swans of the Australia Rules Football league to implement a ‘No Dickhead Rule’ – which team members had credited for enabling them to win their first league championship in seventy-two years. As Care explained in a memo to his colleagues: “To me ‘no dickheads’ means recruiting and retaining people who support and enhance our culture rather than weaken it; it means getting square pegs into square holes and round pegs into round holes – the right people for the right jobs; it means that we are team players working for each other, not ourselves; it means that it is not alright to be a bully or abuse people who are in less powerful positions; it means that if it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t”

Guy Kawasaki:

Steve Jobs has a saying that A players hire A players; B players hire C players; and C players hire D players. It doesn’t take long to get to Z players. This trickle-down effect causes bozo explosions in companies. If there is one thing a CEO must do, it’s hire a management team that is better than he is.

Warren Buffet:

In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy.  And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.

Steve Jobs:

The only way to do great work is to love the work you do.

Focus is about saying no.



Sun Tzu:

If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, then the general is to blame.  But, if his orders are not are clear and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.

Mark Horstman:

It is managerial discipline.  Good management is boring.  It’s un-sexy. It’s un-pretty. It’s repetitive.  It’s disciplined. - Manager Tools cast: Managing A High I: Dangers Part 2

Worker Bee

David Ogilvy:

In the best establishments, promises are always kept, whatever it may cost in agony and overtime. - Confessions of an Advertising Man

Lao Tzu:

Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.


We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.


Mark Twain:

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.  The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.

Frederich Engels:

An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.

Peter Drucker:

The productivity of work is not the responsibility of the worker but of the manager.

Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield:

It is an undoubted truth, that the less one has to do, the less time one finds to do it in. One yawns, one procrastinates, one can do it when one will, and therefore one seldom does it at all.


Joseph Joubert:

The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.

Richard Branson:

If your people aren’t talking to each other, how are they ever going to get ideas?  It was physicist Albert Einstein who said: ‘What a person does on his own, without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of others, is even in the best cases rather paltry and monotonous.’

Robert Frost:

By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work 12 hours a day.

Robert Sutton:

The right kind of friction can help any organisation. To take a famous example, Intel cofounder and retired CEO Andy Grove is renowned for sticking to the facts and inviting anyone – from brand-new Intel engineers to Stanford students whom he teaches about business strategy to senior Intel executives – to challenge his ideas. For Grove, the focus has always been on finding the truth, not on putting people down. Not only do I despise spineless and obsequious wimps, but there is good evidence that they damage organisations. A series of controlled experiments and field studies in organisations shows that when teams engage in conflict over ideas in an atmosphere of mutual respect, they develop better ideas and perform better. That is why Intel teaches employees how to fight, requiring all new to take classes in ‘constructive conflict’. These same studies show, however, that when team members engages in personal conflict – when they fight out of spite and anger – their creativity, performance and job satisfaction plummet. In other words, when people act like a bunch of assholes, the whole group suffers.

The University of Michigan’s Karl Weick advises, ‘Fight as if you are right; listen as if you are wrong.’ That is what Intel tries to teach through initial lectures, role playing, and, most essential, the ways in which managers and leaders fight. They teach people how to fight and when to fight. Their motto is ‘Disagree and then commit,’ because second-guessing, complaining, and arguing after a decision is made saps effort and attention – which obscures whether a decision is failing because it is a bad idea or it is a good idea that is implemented with insufficient energy and commitment.

Stand-up groups took 34 per cent less timem to make the assigned decision, and the quality of their decisions was just as good as those made by sit-down groups.

Performance & Pay

Joseph Joubert:

Genius begins great works; labor alone finishes them.

Kindness is loving people more than they deserve.

Mark Twain:

A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.

Mark Horstman:

There’s nothing wrong with personality. And by the way High Is I’m not dooming you to a life of non-management. You can be a great manager.  You just need to combine your energy with some discipline.  And frankly, some of the High Cs who are listening – you could combine your discipline with some energy thank you very much. Sometimes you really are a wet blanket and you don’t provide any effective discipline as well. Enthusiasm is good.  We want both enthusiasm and discipline. That’s what we want.

Michael Gerber:

Most companies organize around personalities rather than around functions. That is, around people rather than accountabilities or responsibilities. The result is almost always chaos.

Napoleon Bonaparte:

Every soldier carries a marshall’s baton in his pack.

Culture & Communication

Robert Sutton:

Assholes have devastating cumulative effects partly because nasty interactions have a far bigger impact on our moods than positive interactions - five times the punch, accordingly to recent research. Andrew Miner, Theresa Glomb, and Charles Hulin did a clever study in which each of forty-one employees carried palm-size computers. Each completed a brief survey via the device at four random intervals throughout the workday, over a two to three-week period. The device would alert the employee, a short survey would be presented on the screen, and the employee would have twenty minutes to report (among other things) if he or she had a recent interaction with a supervisor or a co-worker; and whether it was positive or negative. Employees completed a checklist about their current mood, whether they were ‘blue,’ contented,’ ‘happy’, and so on. The employees had more positive than negative interactions; for example, about 30 per cent of interactions with co-workers were positive and 10 per cent were negative. But negative interactions have a fivefold stronger effect on mood than positive interactions - so nasty people pack a lot more wallop than their more civilised counterparts. These findings help explain why demeaning acts are so devastating. It takes numerous encounters with positive people to offset the energy and happiness sapped by a single episode with one asshole.

William A. Foster:

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.

Abraham Lincoln:

Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.

Live a good life. In the end it is not the years in a life, but the life in the years.

Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it.

People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.

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