Malcolm Gladwell is one of the most renowned names when it comes to literature and thoughts about being an effective leader. The author of five books all of which have been New York Bestsellers, he has been working as a journalist since 1996 for The New Yorker. Interestingly, his first two articles for the blog were the basis of his first book, ‘The tipping point’. Before joining the New Yorker he was a reporter for the Washington Post. Over the past two decades, his books have been recommended to everyone who is looking to be a leader in any arena. Quotes from Malcolm Gladwell books are used at almost every leadership summit and during leadership programs to define how an effective leader should be.

Here are some of the best Malcolm Gladwell quotes from his books to help you with your leadership skills

In life, most of us are highly skilled at suppressing action. All the improvisation teacher has to do is to reverse this skill and he creates very ‘gifted’ improvisers. Bad improvisers block action, often with a high degree of skill. Good improvisers develop action.

When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves. In the important decisions of personal life, we should be governed, I think, by the deep inner needs of our nature.

Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.

When we talk about analytic versus intuitive decision making, neither is good or bad. What is bad is if you use either of them in an inappropriate circumstance.

Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig.

Malcolm Gladwell quote on hard work

It’s much harder than anybody believes to bring up kids in a wealthy environment…People are ruined by challenged economic times.  But they’re ruined by wealth as well because they lose their ambition and they lose their pride and they lose their sense of self-worth.  It’s difficult at both ends of the spectrum.

We form our impressions not globally, by placing ourselves in the broadest possible context, but locally – by comparing ourselves to people “in the same boat as ourselves.”

There comes a point where the best-intentioned application of power and authority begins to backfire.

Malcolm Gladwell quote on power and authority

Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for 22 minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after 30 seconds.

It’s not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It’s whether or not our work fulfills us. Being a teacher is meaningful.

I want to convince you that these kinds of personal explanations of success don’t work. People don’t rise from nothing…. It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.

Our first impressions are generated by our experiences and our environment, which means that we can change our first impressions … by changing the experiences that comprise those impressions.

Learning how to deal with the possibility of failure is really good preparation for a career in the business world.

Malcolm Gladwell quote on dealing with failure

Basketball is an intricate, high-speed game filled with split-second, spontaneous decisions. But that spontaneity is possible only when everyone first engages in hours of highly repetitive and structured practice–perfecting their shooting, dribbling, and passing and running plays over and over again–and agrees to play a carefully defined role on the court…. Spontaneity isn’t random.

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It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success. It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention. And it’s the biggest nine- and ten-year-olds who get the most coaching and practice. Success is the result of what sociologists like to call “accumulative advantage.”

In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.

Character isn’t what we think it is or, rather, what we want it to be. It isn’t a stable, easily identifiable set of closely related traits, and it only seems that way because of a glitch in the way our brains are organized. Character is more like a bundle of habits and tendencies and interests, loosely bound together and dependent, at certain times, on circumstance and context.

Courage is not something that you already have…Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.

Re-reading is much underrated. I’ve read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold once every five years since I was 15. I only started to understand it the third time.

There is a set of advantages that have to do with material resources, and there is a set that have to do with the absence of material resources- and the reason underdogs win as often as they do is that the latter is sometimes every bit the equal of the former.

IQ is a measure, to some degree, of innate ability. But social savvy is knowledge. It’s a set of skills that have to be learned. It has to come from somewhere, and the place where we seem to get these kinds of attitudes and skills is from our families.

Once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. And what’s more, the people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.

The lesson here is very simple. But it is striking how often it is overlooked. We are so caught in the myths of the best and the brightest and the self-made that we think outliers spring naturally from the earth. We look at the young Bill Gates and marvel that our world allowed that thirteen-year-old to become a fabulously successful entrepreneur. But that’s the wrong lesson. Our world only allowed one thirteen-year-old unlimited access to a time sharing terminal in 1968. If a million teenagers had been given the same opportunity, how many more Microsofts would we have today?

“Superstar lawyers and math whizzes and software entrepreneurs appear at first blush to lie outside ordinary experience. But they don’t. They are products of history and community, of opportunity and legacy. Their success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky – but all critical to making them who they are. The outlier, in the end, is not an outlier at all.”

Extraordinary achievement is less about talent than it is about opportunity.

We prematurely write off people as failures. We are too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail.

Those three things – autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward – are, most people will agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying. – Malcolm Gladwell

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. – Malcolm Gladwell

it would be interesting to find out what goes on in that moment when someone looks at you and draws all sorts of conclusions. – Malcolm Gladwell

To be someone’s best friend requires a minimum investment of time. More than that, though, it takes emotional energy. Caring about someone deeply is exhausting.

Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.

 ALSO READ: Best Quotes from Seth Godin

We hope that these brilliant quotes from Malcolm Gladwell will help you in enhancing your leadership skills. Keep a check on this space for more.

If you want to go into further detail with what Malcolm Gladwell has to offer, you can buy his 5 books from the links below:

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Outliers: The Story of Success
Blink: The Power of Thinking without thinking
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants
What the Dog Saw and Other Adventuers

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