‘I Have a Dream.’
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Today we recognize the life and achievements of a
majorly impactful civil rights leader. Although his life was cut short, his legacy has lived on and the power of his leadership will continue to impact our society for generations to come.
A Brief History Lesson on the Life of MLK Jr.
Martin was born in Atlanta Georgia on January 15, 1929. Although he came to be one of the nation’s greatest civil rights leaders, he had no intentions of doing so. King Jr. had ambitions of being in ministry and leading his church, following in the footsteps of his father. Martin started college at Morehouse College at the age of 15 and graduated with a degree in Sociology. King went on to attend Crozer Theological Seminary to attain his Master of Divinity degree and Boston
University to receive his PhD in Theology.
Martin was definitely versed in biblical knowledge, and he had every intention of utilizing that in ministry, however, he was quickly thrust into the civil rights field. It was in this field that we, as a nation, have been greatly impacted by his leadership.
Lead Often, Lead Well
Leadership can express itself in many ways; different leaders can have different qualities
that make them successful. Today we’re going to look at Martin Luther King Jr.’s
leadership qualities to see what made him so successful in his efforts.
This might be a new word for some of you, but that’s okay because it was new for me too.
Altruistic simply means, showing care and concern for the well-being of others.
King was a part of something larger than himself, and he knew that. As leaders,
we must never let the spotlight shift to us. If we want to be faithful leaders,
we must always seek the greater good. Those whom we are leading are the reason
we are there. Our actions, decisions, and words should always consider those
around us. When our leadership becomes about us, we fail. Focus on those around
you. Make them the reason for your leadership. Seek to serve and benefit them.
MLK Jr. was clear with his communication. He knew how to communicate the messages he was delivering, and he was transparent about it. Leaders must be able to effectively communicate with those around them. If we fail to communicate, we are letting our teams down. You can have the best ideas for your team, but if you fail to communicate them, they are useless.
King meant what he said and said what he meant. The message itself is the most important part, but if you aren’t sincere about it, no one will buy it. Now I’m not telling you to fake it ‘til you make it. People are smart and they will catch on to that quickly. What I’m insisting on is that you only say the things you believe to be true. Speak with care and compassion. Speak with a voice that conveys your heart. The more people see how you have been affected by what you are saying, the more willing they will be to consider the message.
Martin was committed. Plain and simple. He stood for his movement and he did everything he could to convey that. Too often today we see people failing to commit. Leaders must always be committed to their cause, whatever it is. We can’t keep changing our minds or jumping from one camp to another. We have to be intentional about our positions and root ourselves. If we fail to commit, then we are committing to fail. Our teams need us to commit to them. Our teams need us to always show up and do what needs to be done.
He didn’t beat around the bush. He didn’t use hidden agendas or subliminal messages. He stood for something and he didn’t back down in adversity. It’s sad that people today aren’t as willing to go against the grain. People don’t want to offend anyone, so they water down their messages and use softer, more palatable words. The problem with this, however, is that people need to hear the hard truth sometimes. People need to be told “no” or “stop” or “this is how it is.” We, as leaders, must be willing to pour the hydrogen peroxide on the wound. If we aren’t being bold about the things that are true, we could be letting people walk right off a cliff because we’re too afraid to tell them to turn around and walk a different path.
I think it’s safe to say that Martin Luther King Jr. had dreams. He had hopes and aspirations that were able to fuel the hopes and aspirations of many followers. As leaders, it is important that we never lose sight of the future. We must always be looking forward and creating dreams and aspirations to pursue. The more hopeful we are about the future, the more our teams will be able to see the “why” behind their work. Give people a why. Help them see the hope and the future they are working towards.
Whatever position you might be in, lead. You don’t need a title to be a leader. Learn from MLK Jr. and work towards being the best leader you can be. And remember, even when the odds are against you, lead often and lead well!
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Have a wonderful week!
–The Berger Hargis Team