6 Quotes to Motivate Your Team (Part 1)


“TEAM LEADER.” Sometimes it’s a title on a door, shirt, or on a plaque, but all too often, it’s an entirely unspoken designation. More often than not, if everyone always talks about your unfettered optimism and your infectious enthusiasm and passion for success, you are one of the people in the unique position of leadership. 

Whether you find yourself there by appointed means or not, I want to offer you 6 Teamwork Quotes that I believe in so much, I added them to my quote book, Addisonisms: Quotes to Live By. These teamwork quotes will not only help you as a leader but help inspire those around you to take up the mantle of leadership themselves. 

You can use these 6 team motivational quotes for employees, your familial unit, or as quotes to motivate your team every day: 

1. If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more, and become more, you are a leader!

The simple truth is that everyone enjoys being looked up to. Even if people are afraid of what that means in terms of their responsibility, everyone enjoys being a buoy to others. What I have found to be true is that some of the most challenging people I have encountered in a work setting settled down a little bit once they were also put in a position of leadership.

I’m not suggesting that you put a toddler who is going through his terrible twos in charge of the new Corvette here; I’m talking about offering your team’s members the opportunity to shine by helping others shine. 

You don’t need to let the fox watch the hen house; you just need to admit to the fox that he’s clever and acknowledge that you see and honor that part of him. Show the fox how he can put his amazingly clever skills to work…for the benefit of everyone. Now, you have a leader instead of a liability. 

Showing others how they are already natural-born leaders with skills that bring wonderful things to the table can boost an entire team, division, or office. It can also help folks who may not be the easiest to get along with find their place within their team community. In short, everyone has value. You just have to show them where to look for their own.

A team is each individual bringing their strengths together. When team members each care about who is working independently toward one goal in unison, they can make significant progress toward a shared objective. When people are focused on leading others, focused on being committed to serving a greater good, they are more likely to forget about all the petty little things that held them back before. 

When you have a roomful of folks who no longer focus on the petty little things that held them back, you unlock new levels of creativity, productivity, and opportunities to serve the greater good.

2. Leadership is about building other people up and shining a light on them, not yourself.

A leader may be at the front of the ship at times, but they must think of themselves more like the rudder than the ship’s wheel. A rudder is down below, under the surface, constantly making a quiet effort to direct that ship ahead.

The rudder doesn’t ever pop out of the water and say, “excuse me, I’m down here doing ALL THE WORK.”  The rudder, just stays quiet underneath the chaos, doing what it does best…directing the ship.

When you think of the beauty of helping others, leading from behind is the way to go. You empower. You build them up. When you are the rudder, you are the unseen guide, the one who just keeps gently moving in the right direction, while those you support get to stand proudly on deck when the ship comes into port.

This may sound easy, but it’s not. There have been plenty of times when I wanted to stand up and say, “I know how to do this better than anyone else in the room, so let me do it.” But when I sat back, when I encouraged them in their pursuits to learn a skill I already knew, I focused on learning something new myself. If I had stood up in the room that day and demanded that I got to shine doing what I was already good at, I never would have grown, and neither would anyone else. 

If there is a team motivational quote for a team more powerful than one that teaches people to put others first, to put themselves last, and to always shine our light on others, I haven’t seen it.

3. During difficult times, people need a leader who keeps them focused on what’s possible, not what’s wrong.

There will always be challenging times…in the office, at home, and everywhere in between. But when you are a leader, and things aren’t going so great, it can be tempting to shut down, be afraid, and question your leadership capabilities. Now is not the time to do that. Now is not the time to sit in a corner and suck your thumb. Now is the time for your leadership skills to grow stronger.

To achieve true growth and success, we must overcome our need for invulnerability and embrace vulnerability as a means of building stronger relationships and creating a more resilient mindset. 

I remember a time during the very beginning of Primerica’s IPO when everything was going wrong. If the circumstances could have been any more against us, I don’t know how. It was rough. I caught myself focusing on the problems, whining, and being afraid of what might happen as a result of everything wrong. It’s a tough loop to get out of. I felt like if this failed, it would represent me failing so many people down the line to whom I owed the success of this company.

Right then and there, I took out a sheet of paper and wrote down a list of the catastrophes, gripes, fears, and problems we were facing. I memorized that list and then tucked it into my jacket pocket.

Every time I started to go down the rabbit hole of one of the items on that list (mentally, verbally, or with another person), I would stop myself. That was my “off-limits” list. My “we aren’t going to waste any time on those things” list. So we didn’t.

Instead, we focused on what we could be doing, what we needed to do, and what actions we needed to take; we moved forward. On the day of our IPO, that list was still tucked in my jacket pocket. I think we made it to that day on Wall Street because we put that list where it deserved to be: somewhere unseen


Remember, if your team is struggling and you are looking for motivational quotes for a team, you are already ideally positioned for success because you are already putting in the effort to empower your team. I hand picked these quotes to motivate teams and individuals to become the best version of themselves, whether they view themselves as a leader, or not. 

Not only have these teamwork quotes served as starting points for conversation inside the office and out, but they have also made enough of an impact on my life that I compiled them, plus a few more, in my quote book, Addisonisms: Quotes to Live By, for you to utilize in your day to day discussions and meditations.

You may be saying to yourself, “John, you only gave me three team motivational quotes!” Don’t worry, there are more where that came from with Part 2 coming soon. Don’t miss when I update my blog by signing up for newsletters here.

I’m proud of you for demonstrating perseverance by looking for inspiration and support. Give yourself some credit; That, folks, is a WIN! See you at the TOP because the bottom sure is crowded.


  1. Diane Engelkes


    • John Addison

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Diane!

  2. Chad

    I have always admired your leadership, motivation and speeches. Thanks John .will take it to heart and utilize it.

    • John Addison

      Chad, this is so very kind of you to read and take the time to comment and share that with me. I suppose I just want people to learn from my mistakes, epiphanies, and my personal growth. I don’t want others to have to suffer through some of the same challenges I did. Not that those challenges were not useful, but I want to make it easier for others to embrace that knowledge that changes things instead of confusing things. Thanks again!

  3. Tiamo Gonzalez

    Incredible! You are the strongest and resilient co-CEO in history! We love you, John!

    • John Addison

      Tiamo! That is so kind of you to say. I feel like Rick had to be for putting up with my style for all those years! He was the very best teammate I ever could have hoped for. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment and to share your encouragement and kindness with me. I sincerely appreciate it. I am writing my new book, Turn your Fear Into Fuel, and you actually just embraced one of the leadership qualities I highlighted in Chapter 8: starting with sharing kindness on the smallest level. You just did it! Thanks again and I hope to see you soon at a talk or engagement. Hope you have a great rest of your week!

  4. Mona wasmer

    Awesome stuff! And refreshing considering the corporate world sees and speaks only of negativity!

    • John Addison

      Mona! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. People seemed to really like this blog and that thrills me to no end. You know, wasting time focusing on the negative never got anybody anywhere, I don’t think. I just know that when I get to share something positive, when I get to be kind or helpful, I am the one who benefits as well as the other person. It makes sense to me that living life that way is the only way to go. I hope you have a great rest of your week and I look forward to hearing from you more! Thank you for sharing your #realleadership!

  5. Betsy Benoit

    Thank you for this article and advice. It came at the perfect time! I will focus on what needs to be done and what’s possible instead of the setbacks and what’s going wrong. I appreciate your wisdom.

    • Addison Leadership Team

      Betsy! I hear someone who is focused on the solution rather than the problem. I hear someone who is willing to change their mind about how things are going. And I hear someone who is humble enough to say, “this isn’t how I want things to go. I need to make a change.” You absolutely embody Real Leadership with your actions and your attitude. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and to comment on this blog. These are so much fun for me to research and write. When someone finds value in them, it just reminds me that what I do makes a difference to folks and that makes me want to work harder for y’all. You inspired me today. I am grateful for people like you who make a difference in my life. Thank you!


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“The scarcest resource in the world is not oil, it’s leadership.”

As Co-CEO of the largest independent financal services company in North America, John Addison’s skill as a leader was tested and honed daily. He retired in 2015 after taking the company and it’s people to massive heights. He’s just not done helping people get to the top. Today, he’s at the helm of Addison Leadership Group, INC working daily to mentor and educate new leaders.