Martin Luther King Junior was a phenomenal leader born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. He believed that leadership was about serving and not about being a master (Carson, 2001). His father was a Baptist Minister and his mother a teacher. Together with his two siblings a brother and a sister, they liked to study, and music lessons were some of the lessons they took. They also played sports when growing up, but later he became passionate about dealing with African American discrimination. Although the ruling president at that time Abraham Lincoln passed a law that ensured that slaves were granted freedom blacks segregation from white people was still evident. Although he was passionate about fighting for civil rights, his leadership style was exceptional, and his leadership traits can be embraced.
Dr. Martin Luther King Junior embraced a transformational leadership style in decision making and the process of fulfilling his vision. A transformational leader acts as a role model which makes him be admired by his followers (Bass, & Riggio, 2006). This transformative led through actions rather than through delegation. He also showed concern for the needs of the African American citizens the main being equality. Through this leadership style, he motivated and influenced his followers thereby making the nonviolence protest effective in fighting for equality regardless of the race. As a transformational leader, he intellectually stimulated his followers by pushing them to voice his vision and even come up with strategies that would make them win the fight against racial segregation.
First, King was a committed leader who could not be deterred if he decided to do something. He could not give up on what he believed in even when faced with threats and his life was in danger. He believed that the use of nonviolent was the solution to racial segregation (Lee, 2018). The second leadership trait of Martin Luther was masterly in communication. Martin Luther King Jr was a leader who communicated his visions clearly and encouraged people to fight discrimination no by use of weapons but through peaceful protests.
Luther's leadership style was impressive as he believed in those who were willing to support his visions especially in fighting segregation of African America who was seen as second class citizens (King, 2016). He acknowledged their efforts which motivated them to continue fighting. He encouraged his followers not to give up despite the trials that they had gone through. King embraced a teamwork spirit which helped in articulating his dream to his followers. Since the followers felt that they were empowered and motivated to work towards achieving the dream, they shared the vision and fully supported it. Followers need a leader who is inspiring and takes an interest in their wants, values as well as inspirations.
The other leadership skill that leaders should embrace from this exceptional leader is intelligence. Though this skill he was able to lead the African American civil rights movement successfully. He was educated having received a Doctor of philosophy developing in Theology from Boston University (Ling, 2015). This together with his strong communication skills and sound reasoning made him an admirable leader. King did not struggle to lead but instead embraced leadership as a vocation.
He was ready to speak up and address the needs of the people even when he knew that he was in trouble. As a vocational leader, he was passionate about working towards fulfilling his vision no matter what it would cost (King, 2016). King could not take warnings and intimidations so even when his home was bombed after he led the Montgomery bus boycott he asked his team and the citizens to continue with their objective. He did not do this because of his interests but because of his pope whom he felt were unfairly treated.
Leaders should emulate leadership qualities such as self-confidence, determination, intelligence, and effective communication. People follow a person who can effectively communicate his/her vision and inform them why realizing the dream is significant (Bass, & Riggio, 2006). People also cannot follow a leader who does not believe in himself or herself. To gain followers, one has to be confident and not be intimidated. The determination is another quality that leaders who aspire to gain followers should emulate from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For a leader to attract followers, he/she must be intelligent because the strategies used to achieve the vision should be one which will be successful and peaceful.
Although the transformational leadership style is considered effective, it has its shortcomings. One of the shortcoming that the leaders embracing this style should overcome is the possibility of the influence to backfire (Bass, & Riggio, 2006). Although transformational leaders are good in motivating and inspiring, followers can fail to support him/her if things get tough. Leaders should, therefore, ensure that they stimulate the followers to keep going even in trying times.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was a phenomenal leader who will be remembered for long for his exceptional leadership traits. He was a leader who was determined to fight racial segregation by use of nonviolence protest. Leaders up to date embrace his leadership skills, and he made people realize that dreams can be achieved if likeminded people come together. It is not easy to gain followership so as a leader it is vital to be intelligence, self-confidence and determined.
Bass, B. M., & Riggio, R. E. (2006). Transformational leadership. Psychology Press.
Carson, C. (2001). The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Hachette UK.
King Jr, M. L. (2016). MLK on" The Other America" and" Black Power." Beacon Press.
Lee, K. C. S. (2018). 3 The Great Man and Trait Theory of Leadership. Mastering Theories of Educational Leadership and Management.
Ling, P. J. (2015). Martin Luther King, Jr. Routledge.
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