Friday, March 2, 2012

6 Leadership Lessons From Dr. Seuss

Today is the day that the legendary Dr. Seuss was born.  Many images enter you head when someone mentions Dr. Seuss.  You may think of your first book, green eggs and ham, or even that pesky Grinch who stole Christmas.  When I think about Dr. Seuss I envision leadership lessons.  Below you will find a series of quotes from the collective works of Dr. Seuss and a brief explanation of how each relates to leadership

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

Leaders should be bold, take risks, and move organizations forward.  One of my favorite sayings is that managers do things right and leaders do the right things.  That's the difference between fitting in and standing out.  Dr. Seuss did not fit in and neither should you.  

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”  

I believe that leaders have a responsibility to be the "Lead Learner".  You set the tone for the rest of the organization through your actions.  The best leaders are typically learners first.  The great news is that you do not have to attend a conference or pay for an expensive workshop to get smarter.  Technology allows leaders to leverage the wisdom of the world.  You can even become smarter in a box with a fox or on a train in the rain.

“With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.” 

The not-so-good street that many leaders end up on has to do with actions not matching words.  A leader can have the best ideas and intentions yet go nowhere when the actions don't match up.  A leader’s actions must always match even if your wardrobe does not match like many of the characters in Dr. Seuss’ imagination.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, 
because those who mind don't matter, 
and those who matter don't mind” 

If everyone is happy with the work you are doing then you probably aren't leading much of anything.   Leadership is about change and relentlessly seeking a better way.  Somebody, somewhere will not be excited about change and a better way.  Make sure you take inventory of those who mind and those who matter.  

“You have brains in your head. 
You have feet in your shoes 
You can steer yourself 
any direction you choose.” 

Do not be afraid to abandon an initiative that isn't working.  Leaders often ignore signs that an initiative or project should change direction.  Leaders can and should admit when a project has failed or an idea hasn't panned out.  This type of transparency builds trust within an organization.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”

 Everyone has a responsibility to lead.  You are the only one that brings your combination of skills to the table.  Nothing will get better without your leadership and today is the only day you are guaranteed.

There were many more quotes that I could choose.  
So next time you are reading a Dr. Seuss Book 
Make sure not to snooze.


  1. Great quotes to learn from. Nice choice!

    1. Thank you! I had a lot of fun thinking about the topic and writing this one.

  2. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this! Thank you for this post. Such great quotes for leaders, teachers and students!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read, comment, and share this post Erin. I really appreciate the feedback!

  3. OK to use this as a motivational email to my team?

    1. Definitely. Feel free to use and share! Thanks for reading.

  4. These are great - very inspiring! I will definitely share this one. Thank you!


    1. You are definitely welcome. Thank you for taking time to read, comment and most importantly share with others.