Top 76 Quotes on Performance Management

Regular readers will know I write a lot about performance management (see some of the best examples herehere and here). Today I wanted to share some of my favourite performance management quotes.

I’ve included 76 fantastic performance management quotes from a range of CEOs, political leaders, business thinkers, writers, celebrities and sports stars.

If you’ve got a favourite quote that you think we’ve missed, jump into the comments below. I’d love to hear your suggestions.

CEOs talking performance management

“Employees engage with employers and brands when they’re treated as humans worthy of respect.”

Meghan M. Biro

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.”

Douglas Conant

“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”

Stephen R. Covey

“In business, the idea of measuring what you are doing, picking the measurements that count like customer satisfaction and performance… you thrive on that.”

Bill Gates

”There is something that is much more scarce, something rarer than ability. It is the ability to recognise ability.”

Robert Half

“Given the right circumstances, from no more than dreams, determination, and the liberty to try, quite ordinary people consistently do extraordinary things.”

Dee Hock

“When you’re a manager, you work for your company. When you’re a leader, your company works for you.”

Stan Slap

“Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.”

Sam Walton

“Research indicates that workers have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.”

Zig Ziglar

“There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”

Jack Welch

“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among men the greatest asset I possess. The way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement.”

”I have yet to find a man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.”

Charles Schwab

“Trust gives you the permission to give people direction, get everyone aligned, and give them the energy to go get the job done. Trust enables you to execute with excellence and produce extraordinary results. As you execute with excellence and deliver on your commitments, trust becomes easier to inspire, creating a flywheel of performance.”

Douglas Conant

You’ve heard from the best and brightest, now take a look at our business case for an Agile Performance System, and see how you can implement an effective performance management solution in your organisation.

Business Case for APM Cover

Cognology will not provide your email to a third party. We will periodically use your email information for news, sales and marketing purposes. If you wish to opt out of receiving such messages, you may unsubscribe here.

We use Mailchimp to send periodic emails. By clicking to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.

Political leaders give their view

“It is no use saying “we are doing our best.” You have to succeed in doing what is necessary.”

Winston Churchill

“Compromise: the art of sharing a pie in such a way that everyone thinks he has the biggest part.”

Ludwig Erhard

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

John F. Kennedy

“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”

Ralph Nader

“If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee you that.”

Michelle Obama

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

John Quincy Adams

“Don’t let your ego get too close to your position, so that if your position gets shot down, your ego doesn’t go with it.”

“Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.”

Colin Powell

“Your performance depends on your people. Select the best, train them and back them. When errors occur, give sharper guidance. If errors persist or if the fit feels wrong, help them move on. The country cannot afford amateur hour in the White House.”

Donald Rumsfeld

“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

“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

“To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

“Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Being in power is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

Magaret Thatcher

“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”

Theodore Roosevelt

“Leadership is the ability to get people to do what they don’t want to do and like it.”

”How far would Moses have gone if he had taken a poll in Egypt?”

Harry Truman

Thought leaders in the business world

“The bad news is that ignoring the performance of people is almost as bad as shredding their effort in front of their eyes. … The good news is that by simply looking at something that somebody has done, scanning it and saying ‘uh huh,’ [you] dramatically improve people’s motivations.”

Dan Ariely

“Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning.”

Warren G. Bennis

“A manager is responsible for the application and performance of knowledge.”

“Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.”

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.”

Peter Drucker

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”

Ken Blanchard

“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

“The man who starts out going nowhere, generally gets there.”

Dale Carnegie

“If you are building a culture where honest expectations are communicated and peer accountability is the norm, then the group will address poor performance and attitudes.”

Henry Cloud

”Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Curious that we spend more time congratulating people who have succeeded than encouraging people who have not.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson

“Facebook and Twitter aren’t the real problems in the office. The real problems are what I like to call the M&Ms, the Managers and the Meetings.”

Jason Fried

“When I hear people complaining about how hard life is I always ask them “Compared to what?”

Sydney Justin Harris

“The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist.”

Eric Hoffer

“Your number one customers are your people. Look after employees first and then customers last.”

Ian Hutchinson

“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.”

Walter Lippmann

“Business is a combination of war and sport.”

Andre Maurois

“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.”

John C. Maxwell

“Leaders can let you fail and yet not let you be a failure.”

Stanley McChrystal

“All organisations are perfectly designed to get the results they are now getting. If we want different results, we must change the way we do things.”

Tom Northup

“A good leader is not the person who does things right, but the person who finds the right things to do.”

Anthony T. Padovano

“When you prohibit failure, you kill innovation.”

Dan Pallotta

“In a battery, I strive to maximize electrical potential. When mentoring, I strive to maximize human potential.”

Donald Sadoway

“To be successful, innovation is not just about value creation, but value capture.”

Jay Samit

“Difficult times disrupt your conventional ways of thinking and push you to forge better habits of thought, performance and being.”

Robin S. Sharma

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.”

Simon Sinek

“An effective leader is also an effective listener.”

Artika Tyner

From those in the media

”Any business or industry that pays equal rewards to its goof-offs and eager beavers sooner or later will find itself with more goof-offs than eager beavers.”

Mick Delaney

“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.”

Ellen DeGeneres

“In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.”

Tina Fey

“The only place you can win a football game is on the field. The only place you can lose it is in your heart.”

Darrell Royal

“When you train your employees to be risk averse, then you’re preparing your whole company to be reward challenged.”

Morgan Spurlock

Leaders throughout history

“What the statesman is most anxious to produce is a certain moral character in his fellow citizens, namely a disposition to virtue and the performance of virtuous actions.”

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


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

George S. Patton Jr.

“Success is blocked by concentrating on it and planning for it…. Success is shy-it won’t come out while you’re watching.”

Tennessee Williams

“You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.”

William Blake

“A leader is a dealer in hope.”

Napoléon Bonaparte

“If you command wisely, you’ll be obeyed cheerfully.”

Thomas Fuller

“The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.”

Benjamin Disraeli

“Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.”

Niccolo Machiavelli

“His promises were, as he then was, mighty; But his performance, as he is now, nothing.”

William Shakespeare

“Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

Sun Tzu

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

Lao Tzu

“Experience, the name men give to their mistakes.”

Oscar Wilde