Average leaders focus on results, and that’s it. Good leaders focus also on the behaviors that will get the results. And great leaders focus, in addition, on the emotions that will drive these behaviors.
–Hitendra Wadhwa (professor, Columbia Business School / Founder, Mentora Institute)

This week the United States celebrated the life and memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King means many things to many people. He was:

  • A great preacher
  • A civil-rights activist
  • An advocate of non-violence
  • A great leader

We want to add that he was a “Courageous Leader”. It required courage to control his anger, to not return violence with violence, and to maintain and promote his mission of peace.

Dr. King influenced so many without being arrogant, without being a bully, without looking down and speaking poorly of others, and without being divisive. His focus was on peace and unity, and one of his most famous quotes was: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”

Inspiring Quotes From Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. had hundreds of inspiring quotes. We like one below, and replaced the words “education” and “educate” with “leadership” and “lead” to add a different twist:

The function of LEADERSHIP is to LEAD one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true LEADERSHIP.

Here are some more Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes that we’d like you to think about in terms of leadership:

  • A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
  • Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.
  • Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
  • The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.
  • The time is always right to do what is right.
  • Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.
  • The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Leadership Insights Based on MLK’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech highlighted what great leaders do. Michael Hyatt published an article based on this speech and shares the following insights (with our comments beside them).

  • Great leaders do not sugar-coat reality. They deliver hard messages and share realistic expectations.
  • Great leaders engage the heart. They understand the importance of being passionate about what you do.
  • Great leaders refuse to accept the status quo. The need for growth and innovation is a constant.
  • Great leaders create a sense of urgency. Time is always an important factor.
  • Great leaders call people to act in accord with their highest values. Integrity is the top rated leadership value.
  • Great leaders refuse to settle. Persist and persevere!
  • Great leaders acknowledge the sacrifice of their followers. Recognize and reward efforts and accomplishments.
  • Great leaders paint a vivid picture of a better tomorrow. True leaders are visionaries.

The list of what great leaders do could be endless, but one we’re big on is that leaders must have courage.

Without courage you’ll never step out of your comfort zone, you’ll likely not live your dream, and you probably won’t empower yourself and others to go where they have never gone before.

We challenge you to live your life with courage and to leverage it to be the leader you aspire to be!

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