27 Idioms for Leadership + Quiz


Throughout history, idioms have emerged to describe the qualities and actions of effective leaders. In this article, we’ll explore idioms related to leadership, uncover their meanings, and show you how they can be applied in various contexts.

Whether you’re a future leader or simply curious, these idioms will shed light on the art of leading.

idioms for leadership

What is an Idiom for Leadership?

Idioms are phrases that carry meanings beyond their individual words. When it comes to leadership, idioms capture the essence of taking charge, making decisions, and being at the forefront.

Let’s dive into the meanings of common idioms related to leadership and see how they play out in everyday conversations.


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Created by Dr. Julia Rossi

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1 / 20

What is a simile?

2 / 20

Identify the simile in the following sentence: “She swims like a fish.”

3 / 20

What is a metaphor?

4 / 20

Which of the following is a metaphor?

5 / 20

What is an idiom?

6 / 20

What does the idiom “break the ice” mean?

7 / 20

What is an adjective?

8 / 20

Choose the adjective in the following sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

9 / 20

What is an abbreviation?

10 / 20

What does the abbreviation “e.g.” stand for?

11 / 20

What is a verb?

12 / 20

Identify the verb in the following sentence: “The cat sleeps on the sofa.”

13 / 20

“Out of the frying pan into the fire” is an example of:

14 / 20

Which of the following is an adjective?

15 / 20

The abbreviation “NASA” stands for:

16 / 20

Choose the metaphor in the following sentence: “Time is a thief.”

17 / 20

What does the idiom “hit the books” mean?

18 / 20

Which of the following sentences contains a simile?

19 / 20

“LOL” is an abbreviation for:

20 / 20

Identify the verb in this sentence: “They whispered secrets into the night.”

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IdiomMeaningExample Sentence
Lead from the FrontTaking initiative and leading by example.The manager encourages his team to lead from the front by demonstrating hard work and dedication.
Take the HelmAssume leadership or control of a situation or organization.After the CEO’s retirement, she was chosen to take the helm of the company.
Call the ShotsMake important decisions or be in control.As the project manager, it’s your responsibility to call the shots and ensure everything runs smoothly.
Steer the ShipDirect or guide a group or organization toward a specific goal or destination.During times of crisis, a strong leader can effectively steer the ship and navigate challenges.
Set the PaceEstablish a standard or level of performance for others to follow.The coach always sets the pace during practice sessions to motivate the team.
Lead by ExampleDemonstrate the behavior or work ethic you expect from others.A great leader not only gives instructions but also leads by example, inspiring their team.
Be in the Driver’s SeatBe in control of a situation or decision-making process.As the project coordinator, she’s in the driver’s seat when it comes to project timelines.
Take the ReinsAssume control or leadership responsibilities.He decided to take the reins of the family business after his father retired.
Be at the ForefrontBe in a leading or prominent position.In the world of technology, staying at the forefront of innovation is crucial.
Be the Captain of the ShipHold the highest authority or responsibility.The CEO is like the captain of the ship, steering the company toward success.
Lead the ChargeTake the lead in a decisive action or movement.He was always the first to lead the charge during volunteer events, inspiring others to follow.
Blaze a TrailCreate a new path or set a precedent for others to follow.Her groundbreaking research work helped blaze a trail in the field of science.
Be in the Hot SeatBe in a position of intense scrutiny or pressure.When the company faced financial difficulties, the CFO found herself in the hot seat.
Hold the Keys to the KingdomHave access to critical information or control over essential resources.With the encryption keys, the IT specialist holds the keys to the kingdom in terms of data security.
Wear the CrownHold the highest position or authority.The reigning champion can proudly wear the crown until the next competition.
Be at the Top of the PyramidOccupy the highest level or position in a hierarchy.In the corporate world, the CEO is usually at the top of the pyramid.
Be the Top DogBe the most important or influential person or entity.In the world of fashion, Paris is considered the top dog.
Rule the RoostBe in control or dominate a particular situation.The experienced coach knew how to rule the roost and get the best performance from the team.
Be the Head HonchoBe the person in charge or the leader.In the office, the head honcho is responsible for making important decisions.
Be the Big CheeseHold a position of great importance or influence.As the founder of the company, she’s the big cheese and sets the company’s direction.
Be the Top BananaBe the most important or significant person in a group or situation.When it comes to the project team, John is the top banana with the most experience.
Be the KingpinBe the central or most important figure in a group or organization.The kingpin of the criminal organization was finally apprehended by law enforcement.
Be the ChiefBe the leader or person in charge.As the chief of the tribe, he made important decisions for the community.
Be the MastermindBe the person who plans or orchestrates a complex operation or scheme.The mastermind behind the art heist had planned every detail meticulously.
Be the Shot-CallerBe the person who makes important decisions and gives orders.In the military, the general is the shot-caller during missions.
Be the Top BrassRefers to high-ranking officials or leaders in an organization.The top brass of the company gathered to discuss the new strategic plan.
Be the Top GunBe the best or most skilled in a particular area or field.Among the programmers, she’s considered the top gun when it comes to coding.

Metaphors can depict leadership in various ways, like comparing it to the steady hand that guides a ship through stormy seas. To explore more metaphors for leadership, you can visit this link: Metaphors for Leadership. Similarly, similes offer comparisons that make leadership more relatable, such as saying it’s as crucial as a compass in the wilderness. Discover additional similes for leadership here: Similes for Leadership.

Idioms for Leadership

1. Lead from the Front

Meaning: Taking the initiative and leading by example.

In a Sentence: The manager always encourages his team to lead from the front by demonstrating hard work and dedication.

2. Take the Helm

Meaning: Assume leadership or control of a situation or organization.

In a Sentence: After the CEO’s retirement, she was chosen to take the helm of the company.

3. Call the Shots

Meaning: Make important decisions or be in control.

In a Sentence: As the project manager, it’s your responsibility to call the shots and ensure everything runs smoothly.

4. Steer the Ship

Meaning: Direct or guide a group or organization toward a specific goal or destination.

In a Sentence: During times of crisis, a strong leader can effectively steer the ship and navigate challenges.

5. Set the Pace

Meaning: Establish a standard or level of performance for others to follow.

In a Sentence: The coach always sets the pace during practice sessions to motivate the team.

6. Lead by Example

Meaning: Demonstrate the behavior or work ethic you expect from others.

In a Sentence: A great leader not only gives instructions but also leads by example, inspiring their team.

7. Be in the Driver’s Seat

Meaning: Be in control of a situation or decision-making process.

In a Sentence: As the project coordinator, she’s in the driver’s seat when it comes to project timelines.

8. Take the Reins

Meaning: Assume control or leadership responsibilities.

In a Sentence: He decided to take the reins of the family business after his father retired.

9. Be at the Forefront

Meaning: Be in a leading or prominent position.

In a Sentence: In the world of technology, staying at the forefront of innovation is crucial.

10. Be the Captain of the Ship

Meaning: Hold the highest authority or responsibility.

In a Sentence: The CEO is like the captain of the ship, steering the company toward success.

11. Lead the Charge

Meaning: Take the lead in a decisive action or movement.

In a Sentence: He was always the first to lead the charge during volunteer events, inspiring others to follow.

12. Blaze a Trail

Meaning: Create a new path or set a precedent for others to follow.

In a Sentence: Her groundbreaking research work helped blaze a trail in the field of science.

13. Be in the Hot Seat

Meaning: Be in a position of intense scrutiny or pressure.

In a Sentence: When the company faced financial difficulties, the CFO found herself in the hot seat.

14. Hold the Keys to the Kingdom

Meaning: Have access to critical information or control over essential resources.

In a Sentence: With the encryption keys, the IT specialist holds the keys to the kingdom in terms of data security.

15. Wear the Crown

Meaning: Hold the highest position or authority.

In a Sentence: The reigning champion can proudly wear the crown until the next competition.

16. Be at the Top of the Pyramid

Meaning: Occupy the highest level or position in a hierarchy.

In a Sentence: In the corporate world, the CEO is usually at the top of the pyramid.

17. Be the Top Dog

Meaning: Be the most important or influential person or entity.

In a Sentence: In the world of fashion, Paris is considered the top dog.

18. Rule the Roost

Meaning: Be in control or dominate a particular situation.

In a Sentence: The experienced coach knew how to rule the roost and get the best performance from the team.

19. Be the Head Honcho

Meaning: Be the person in charge or the leader.

In a Sentence: In the office, the head honcho is responsible for making important decisions.

20. Be the Big Cheese

Meaning: Hold a position of great importance or influence.

In a Sentence: As the founder of the company, she’s the big cheese and sets the company’s direction.

21. Be the Top Banana

Meaning: Be the most important or significant person in a group or situation.

In a Sentence: When it comes to the project team, John is the top banana with the most experience.

22. Be the Kingpin

Meaning: Be the central or most important figure in a group or organization.

In a Sentence: The kingpin of the criminal organization was finally apprehended by law enforcement.

23. Be the Chief

Meaning: Be the leader or person in charge.

In a Sentence: As the chief of the tribe, he made important decisions for the community.

24. Be the Mastermind

Meaning: Be the person who plans or orchestrates a complex operation or scheme.

In a Sentence: The mastermind behind the art heist had planned every detail meticulously.

25. Be the Shot-Caller

Meaning: Be the person who makes important decisions and gives orders.

In a Sentence: In the military, the general is the shot-caller during missions.

26. Be the Top Brass

Meaning: Refers to high-ranking officials or leaders in an organization.

In a Sentence: The top brass of the company gathered to discuss the new strategic plan.

27. Be the Top Gun

Meaning: Be the best or most skilled in a particular area or field.

In a Sentence: Among the programmers, she’s considered the top gun when it comes to coding.

10 Quizzes About The Idiom in The Article

Quiz 1: Leadership Idioms – What’s the Meaning?

Question 1: What does the idiom “Take the Helm” mean?

  • A) Steer a ship.
  • B) Assume leadership or control of a situation or organization.
  • C) Lead by example.

Answer: B) Assume leadership or control of a situation or organization.


Quiz 2: Leadership Idioms – Fill in the Blank

Question 2: If someone is asked to “Be in the Driver’s Seat,” it means they should _______.

Answer: Be in control of a situation or decision-making process.


Quiz 3: Leadership Idioms – True or False

Question 3: “Blaze a Trail” means following a well-trodden path. (True/False)

Answer: False


Quiz 4: Leadership Idioms – Completing the Sentence

Question 4: When a coach “Sets the Pace” during practice, they are motivating the team to _______.

Answer: Follow their lead in terms of performance.


Quiz 5: Leadership Idioms – Match the Meaning

Question 5: Match the idiom to its meaning:
Idiom: “Be the Top Dog”
Meaning: Be the most important or influential person or entity.

Answer: Matching Meaning – “Be the Top Dog”


Quiz 6: Leadership Idioms – What’s the Opposite?

Question 6: What’s the opposite of “Rule the Roost”?

  • A) Be submissive and follow others.
  • B) Be in control or dominate a particular situation.
  • C) Be at the forefront of innovation.

Answer: A) Be submissive and follow others.


Quiz 7: Leadership Idioms – True or False

Question 7: “Be the Mastermind” means someone who plans a complex operation or scheme. (True/False)

Answer: True


Quiz 8: Leadership Idioms – Finish the Sentence

Question 8: “Hold the Keys to the Kingdom” means having access to _______.

Answer: critical information or control over essential resources.


Quiz 9: Leadership Idioms – What’s the Meaning?

Question 9: What does the idiom “Steer the Ship” mean?

  • A) Direct or guide a group toward a specific goal.
  • B) Be in a position of intense scrutiny.
  • C) Assume control of a ship.

Answer: A) Direct or guide a group toward a specific goal.


Quiz 10: Leadership Idioms – Completing the Sentence

Question 10: “Lead by Example” means a leader should _______.

Answer: Demonstrate the behavior or work ethic they expect from others.

Conclusion

These idioms for leadership offer unique insights into the qualities and actions of effective leaders. Whether you’re navigating the corporate world, leading a team, or aspiring to be a leader, these idioms can help you better understand the responsibilities and characteristics associated with taking the lead.

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