Davos flashback: 9 inspiring quotes for those looking to lead

Ski mountaineering at the Flüela Schwarzhorn, Switzerland
squirrel_photography | iStock / Getty Images Plus | Getty Images
Ski mountaineering at the Flüela Schwarzhorn, Switzerland
squirrel_photography | iStock / Getty Images Plus | Getty Images

The countdown is on. In just four days, thousands of leaders from across the world will descend upon the Swiss town of Davos to participate at 2018's World Economic Forum (WEF).

The annual meeting aims to raise awareness on key global issues, from gender disparity and poverty to automation and geopolitical tensions. But it also offers a fascinating insight into key leadership advice and tips for the future.

In anticipation of what this year's summit may bring, CNBC draws together nine quotes from previous Davos meetings, to give you the dose of motivation you need to lead.

Fighting for democracy

Former VP Joe Biden.
Bastiaan Slabbers | NurPhoto | Getty Images

"Fight to create more equitable and more inclusive growth for people at every level, not only in our continents but around the world. A fight for democracy wherever it is under threat — be it at home or abroad. A fight to lift up the forces of inclusion while opposing intolerance in all its guises."

"A fight to urge those to reject isolationism and protectionism. A fight to block the dangerous proposition that facts no longer matter."

"That the truth holds no inherent power in a world where propagandists, demagogues and extremists carry sway. To win this fight, we must continue to invest in our democratic alliances."

Joe Biden, former vice president of the United States, at WEF in 2017

A diverse working environment

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook
Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

"We shouldn't be working towards equality just because it's the right thing, we should do it because it's the smart thing. From a company point of view, or an organizational point of view, if you can use the full talents of the workforce, you're going to outperform."

"So whether you're a man or a woman, whether you're the most entry-level employee trying to outperform, or the CEO, if you engage and really build diverse teams, you're going to outperform. So do it because it's going to help you."

—Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook on the progress towards parity in 2016

Face your fears

China's President Xi Jinping delivers a speech on the opening day of the World Economic Forum, on January 17, 2017 in Davos.
Fabric Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

"The history of mankind tells us that problems are not to be feared. What should concern us is refusing to face up to the problems and not knowing what to do about them."

Xi Jinping, president of the People's Republic of China, at WEF in 2017

Raising awareness from any platform

Shakira at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
David A. Grogan | CNBC

"There really is so much that can be done, like I said before, you don't have to be a politician or a singer-songwriter or a model to draw attention to these important issues or other causes that people really resonate with."

Shakira, singer and philanthropist, on campaigning during a panel discussion in 2017

The future of the workplace

Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and CEO of EY at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
David A. Grogan | CNBC

"We cannot be successful in creating jobs if 50 percent of the workforce is left out."

"(When it comes to gender) there is unintentional bias, and in some ways, robotics can remove some of that unintentional bias by objectively looking at criteria, and so I think there's optimism there."

Mark Weinberger, EY CEO speaks to CNBC on gender in the workplace in 2017

Having a plan and executing it

Newly formed Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Meg Whitman speaks during a press conference in New York on November 2, 2015.
Jewel Samad | AFP | Getty Images

"My advice to CEOs is hold your organization and your business accountable for a plan and then execute the plan. You can change it as you go along if new technologies arrive and things like that. But if you do not have a plan, it's that old saying 'If you do not have a destination, any road will take you there' — and this is where I see huge cost overruns and disappointment in the delivery for the businesses."

Meg Whitman, outgoing Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO talks about the digital transformation of industries in 2016

Trust in the digital age

Marc Benioff, CEO of SalesForce.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

"The fourth industrial revolution starts with one very important point which is trust. You're about to define a new level of trust between yourself and your employees, between yourself and your customers, between yourself and your key shareholders, between yourself and your partners."

"This is a cultural revolution for organizations that are not built on trust. When we talk about trust, when we talk about growth, when we talk about innovation — we have to talk about it in that order."

Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com CEO, on the digital revolution in 2016

Someone to look up to

Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Chris Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"You don't change mind-sets by just talking about things, you role model."

"It takes women role-modeling what's right and it takes men role-modeling what's right. It's going to take all of us doing that and then expectations do change."

— Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, on the progress towards parity in 2016

The benefits of positive leadership

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for a meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York on April 6, 2017.
Jewel Samad | AFP | Getty Images

"See, technology itself will not determine the future we get, our choices will. Leadership will."

"I believe in positive, ambitious leadership. I don't believe leaders should prey on the anxiety of the disenfranchized. Leadership should be focused on extending the ladder of opportunity to everyone, on pursuing policies that create growth and on ensuring that growth produces tangible results for everyone."

"Positive leadership creates a virtuous cycle. The more results we achieve for people, the more we grow the middle-class and create real chances for those working hard to join the middle-class, the more people will grant you a license for further ambition."

"We need to trust citizens. We need to give people the tools and the ability to help them succeed."

Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, speaking at WEF in 2016

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