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 in the United States we once again celebrated the life and memory of Martin Luther King, Jr, a minister, a civil-rights activist, an advocate of nonviolence, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner (1964).

Dr. King influenced so many without being arrogant, without being a bully, without looking down and speaking poorly of others, and without being divisive.  Quite the contrary, 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?”

He was a leader that held true to his beliefs, and promoted the behaviors required for everyone to be judged on their personal qualities, (not their color) and that violence not be responded to with violence, but rather with actions of peace.

Dr. King shared his “I Have a Dream” speech (and vision) at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He wanted to create a national movement to promote equality and economic opportunities for everyone, and that people would not be “judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Professor Wadhwa provides the following insights from Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I HAVE A DREAM” speech:

  • Great leaders do not sugar-coat reality
  • Great leaders engage the heart
  • Great leaders refuse to accept the status quo
  • Great leaders create a sense of urgency
  • Great leaders call people to act in accord with their highest values
  • Great leaders refuse to settle
  • Great leaders acknowledge the sacrifice of their followers
  • Great leaders paint a vivid picture of a better tomorrow
  • Great leaders know it’s always right to do what is right

And we’ll add one:  Great leaders want to make others be their best; they take others where they have not been before, and would not go by themselves.

What are you doing for others?

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.–MLK