Leadership Philosophy: Frances Hesselbein in 10 Inspiring Quotes

Every good leader has her or his own leadership philosophy. And they convey it through their words and actions.

Frances Hesselbein (born 1 November 1915) is the President and CEO of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute. But she is better know as the former CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. Her book, Hesselbein on Leadership is a must read for a list of the best inspiring leadership quotes.

Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, when asked who he thinks is the best leader he answered: Frances Hesselbein.

To prove Peter Drucker’s point:


10 Most Inspiring Leadership Quotes by Frances Hesselbein


Communication is not saying something; communication is being heard.


You should be a living practicing example of what you are preaching.


Faster is slower

Organizations exist to make people’s strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant. And this is the work of effective leaders.


The leader for today and the future will be focused on how to be – how to develop quality, character, mind-set, values, principles, and courage.

The leader for today and the future will be focused on how to be - how to develop quality, character, mind-set, values, principles, and courage. - Frances Hasselbein Click To Tweet

When you see a roadblock or challenge as an opportunity, it is amazing how you are already halfway there.



Leadership is much less about what you do, and much more about who you are. If you view leadership as a bag of manipulative tricks or charismatic behaviors to advance your own personal interest, then people have every right to be cynical. But if your leadership flows first and foremost from inner character and integrity of ambition, then you can justly ask people to lend themselves to your organization and its mission.


Leadership is much less about what you do, and much more about who you are.

Leadership is much less about what you do, and much more about who you are. - Frances Hasselbein Click To Tweet

The best part of the character and quality of the leader is expressing who you are in the work you do and how you do it.



Few leaders are born. We learn to be leaders. We learn by working with other people and working through our philosophy.


People know that pursuing a mission without achieving results is dispiriting; achieving results without a mission is meaningless.

Telling it as it is. That’s what makes a top 10 list of the most inspiring leadership quotes. And Frances Hasselbein is not one to beat around the bush when she has to say a truth.


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From Lean Manufacturing to Lean (Almost) Everything

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You can argue that the Lean Manufacturing concept had its glory days, and that there are a lot of limitations to it (some of them resulting from our own limited understanding of the fundamentals of the concept), but still: it’s not all bad.

For those who still wonder what lean manufacturing is

Lean manufacturing (or lean) is a systematic way of reducing waste while continuously improving the quality of the product, in accordance with the values desired by the customer.  

The origin of lean manufacturing

Surprisingly, Henry Ford was not the initiator of the lean manufacturing.

The origins of lean manufacturing go back as far as 1450s at the Arsenal in Venice.

In the modern era, Henry Ford brought back to life the idea of integrated manufacturing processes, by standardizing the parts and the sub-processes involved, and creating the “flow production” – the (in)famous assembly lines.

The lack of variety in his product-offering was one of the reasons Ford’s model worked so well.

As soon as companies were trying to add some variety in their production processes, this model started to show its limits.

Taiichi Ono and Kiichiro Toyoda were those who found a way to put the two elements together: increased product complexity without compromising the quality of the final product and insuring the continuity in the process flow.

They called their invention the Toyota Production System.

James P. Womack analyzed the thought process that created the lean concept in The Machine That Changed the World.


The 5 Lean Manufacturing Principles

Later, in his other book Lean Thinking, he identified the 5 lean principles as follows:

1. Identifying and defining the value desired by the customer

2. Mapping the value stream (and trying to eliminate the waste-generating process steps)