History remembers Martin Luther King Jr. not just as a preacher or a man who loved his family, but a man who was concerned with true equality. He is the heart of the US civil rights movement and fondly remembered by many because of his bravery, his sense of humor, and his ability to draw together people from every walk of life to create needed change.
MLK may have been taken from this world much too soon, but his leadership traits will continue to live on. They are a reminder of the man he was and the five traits that were the emphasis of his philosophy can take you to great heights as well.
#1. Everyone Can Create Something Great
Assumption will be the death of every leader. The instant a leader assumes that someone on the entry levels of an organization doesn’t have the skills or knowledge to do something great, that leader should step down. Wisdom is present everywhere and in surprising places. Life experience is just as valuable as business experience! MLK realized that people in even the most humble of life’s places would still understand great things and so he never talked down to people in a superior way. He engaged them on a personal, equal level.
#2. Fear Is a Motivational Tool
MLK was always afraid that something bad would happen because of the choices that he was making. He would often speak about feeling fear before the speeches he would make. Sometimes it was because he was afraid people might riot, but at other times, his concern was that he wouldn’t make his points clear enough. If you don’t feel fear at the important moments of team development, then you aren’t engaged as a leader. Fear shouldn’t hold you back! You should embrace it instead and let it fuel your passions for success.
#3. Tension Isn’t a Bad Thing In a Team
For leaders that are seeking a competitive edge, installing a bit of tension within their team can drive everyone to greater heights. Tension through competition helps to encourage cutting edge innovation because everyone is driving to succeed! Leaders can also install tension in a team by encouraging the development of ideas that are outside of the box and by shaking things up so that people are doing things they normally wouldn’t do.
#4. Understand the Foundation
MLK understood why the civil rights movement was so important to the people he knew and the country itself. He knew what he had to do, even in those moments when he didn’t want to really do the work, because he understood the foundation of the movement. When you understand the foundation, you can change what is built on top of it.
#5. Get Everyone Involved
Most importantly, MLK understood that for real change to occur, everyone had to be involved instead of a select few. It had to start with a grassroots movement and build from there so that everyone could have ownership of the movement. The same is true with any team! If people in a team take ownership of an idea, then they’ll be active and want to see success – sometimes just for the sake of success itself.