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Our favourite Adam Grant quotes for leaders - both short & longer

Leadership quotes from author Adam Grant (Originals, Think Again)

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Adam Grant quotes are highly-regarded by leaders.

Coming as they do from an organisational psychologist, Adam Grant excerpts are among the most popular leadership and management quotes in the modern era.

That’s why his books are #1 New York Times bestsellers. The author of Originals, Give and Take and Think Again packs inspiring quotes, case studies, and stories of leadership in every one. 

You can be part of an Adam Grant masterclass in July 2021 when The Growth Faculty presents The Critical Art of Rethinking.

In the lead-up, enjoy some of our favourite quotes from Adam Grant, author, psychologist, thought leader. 


“I study how to make work not suck.”

“Talented people are attracted to those who care about them.”

“It’s never too late to become original.”

“Don't criticize yourself while you're creating.”

“We listen to views that make us feel good, instead of ideas that make us think hard.”

"People are remarkably open to criticism when they believe it’s intended to help them."

"Beware of getting stranded at the summit of Mt Stupid."

"Arrogance leaves us blind to our weaknesses."

"Everyone knows more than you about something."

"Listening well is more than a matter of talking less. It's a set of skills in asking and responding."

“I think of productivity as using your time to accomplish things of value to you and others.”

“In a heated argument, you can always stop and ask, ‘What evidence would change your mind?’ If the answer is ‘nothing,’ then there’s no point in continuing the debate.”

"A good debate is not a war. It's not even a tug-of-war....it's more like a dance that hasn't been choreographed."

"Once we hear the story and accept it as true, we rarely bother to question it."

"There’s a wealth of evidence that people want to do meaningful work."

“Your antidote to burnout is not necessarily less work. It could be more meaning.”

"To predict how people will use power, you need to figure out what their motives, values and identities are before they have it."

“Complex problems like pandemics, climate change, and political polarisation call on us to stay mentally flexible."

“We live in a rapidly changing world, where we need to spend as much time rethinking as we do thinking."

“My favourite bias is the ‘I’m not biased’ bias, in which people believe they’re more objective than others.”

“What do you want to be when you grow up? As a kid, that was my least favourite question.”

"Your 'should self' puts the alarm clock across the room at night so your 'want self' can’t reach the snooze button in the morning."

"Most of the jobs you get are more or less through word of mouth, or a recommendation. It’s really important to have a good reputation."

"Whereas success is zero-sum in a group of takers, in groups of givers, it may be true that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts."

"Strong leaders engage their critics and make themselves stronger. Weak leaders silence their critics and make themselves weaker."

"The most effective leaders score high in both confidence AND humility." 

"Changing your mind doesn’t make you a flip-flopper or a hypocrite. It means you were open to learning."

"My past self was Mr Facts - I was too fixated on knowing. Now I'm more interested in finding out what I don't know."

"Passions are developed, not just discovered."

"It takes confident humility to admit that we're in a work in progress."

"I think the world would be a better place if everyone put on scientist goggles a little more often."

"Focusing on results might be good for short-term performance, but it can be an obstacle to long-term learning."

"What distinguishes the greatest leaders of our time, it's that success is very rarely a goal for them; it’s a byproduct of other goals that they have.”

"We don’t know how time and circumstances will change what we want and even who we want to be, and locking our life GPS onto a single target can give us the right directions to the wrong destination."

"The more I help out, the more successful I become. But I measure success in what it has done for the people around me. That is the real accolade."

“If we want to forecast whether the originators of a novel idea will be successful, we need to look beyond the enthusiasm they express about their ideas and focus on the enthusiasm for execution that they reveal through their actions.”

"Our identities are open systems, and so are our lives."

"I'm scheduling a weekly time for rethinking and unlearning."

 “’Dissenting for the sake of dissenting is not useful…But when it’s authentic, it stimulates thought; it clarifies and emboldens.’ Genuine dissenters challenge people to doubt themselves.”

“Originality brings more bumps in the road, yet it leaves us with more happiness and a greater sense of meaning.”

“Originality is not a fixed trait. It is a free choice.”

"Instead of hovering like a helicopter parent, try submarine parenting: give kids the freedom to explore and surface if there’s a distress signal."

"No-one wants to hear everything that’s in your head. They just want you to live up to what comes out of your mouth."

"To generate creative ideas, it’s important to start from an unusual place. But to explain those ideas, they have to be connected to something familiar."

"Procrastination is a vice when it comes to productivity, but it can be a virtue for creativity."

"Conformity is dangerous."

"A hallmark of wisdom is knowing when it’s time to abandon some of your most treasured tools—and some of the most cherished parts of your identity."

"For startups, there’s so much pivoting that’s required that if you have a bunch of sheep, you’re in bad shape."

"Good guys are most likely to finish last, but also most likely to finish first."

"Enemies make better allies than frenemies."

"Focus attention and energy on making a difference in the lives of others, and success might follow as a by product."

 "Being a giver is not good for a 100-yard dash, but it’s valuable in a marathon."

 "Evidence shows that in learning cultures, organisations innovate more and make fewer mistakes."

"Joy can wax and wane, but meaning is more likely to last."

"Stop asking kids what they want to be when they grow up."


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