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3 Important Leadership Lessons From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The essential ingredient for change

Martin Luther King is honored and revered today, but society didn't embrace him in his short life. Yet King knew his dream of equality was more important than popular opinion. He never accepted that just because things were a certain way, it made them right.

King worked towards disrupting the status quo to enable change.

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Charismatic Leadership Style

Max Weber defined charisma as “[a] certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at ...

History of charismatic leadership
  • In medieval times, leadership was mostly based on tradition. Most people never met their leaders and leadership was legitimized by the divine right of kings - charisma was not needed.
  • The 19th and the 20th century were full of charismatic leaders. Technological (newspaper, radio, and TV) allowed leaders to transport their charisma over long distances.
  • Our current globalized world and access to social media have led to another rise in charismatic leaders. On Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, many people support leaders solely based on their charisma.
Dangers of charismatic leadership

Most of the dangers of the charismatic movement relate to this power.

  • Charismatic leaders lose support more quickly than other types of leaders.
  • They have to clearly be the best person for the job at hand – always and in any situation. This is why they often engage in a cult of personality and become resistant to criticism.
  • Things that charismatic leaders do to maintain their power are precisely the things that diminish it when their business, country, or other undertaking encounters problems.
  • When charismatic leaders use their position to motivate their followers to do things they would not normally do, the followers often feel betrayed once they suspect that they might not get the expected payoff. 
  • They often eventually take the praise of their followers too seriously and show narcissistic traits. They consider criticism as disobedience and expect total loyalty. 
Treat Others With Respect

George Washington was a man of exceptional integrity who carried himself with dignity and self-confidence and was excessively loved among the masses.

Whoever you’re talking to, treat them ...

Always do The Right Thing

Great leaders do the right thing even when no one’s watching. In the times of pseudo-leadership, it’s not hard to spot an authentic leader - someone who is fair, smart, and empathetic, like Martin Luther King Jr

A true leader never shies away from voicing his opinions, breaking stereotypes, and doing the right thing - not just once but every single time.

You Need Other People To Succeed

Richard Branson knew that great things in business are never done by one person, they are done by teams.

Branson aims to find the best candidate for a job, give them enough autonomy, then step back to give them a space to flourish. It not only benefits the business as a whole but also helps them to become a leader in their own right.

Kurt Lewin's Leadership Styles

Psychologist Kurt Lewin developed his framework in the 1930s, and it provided the foundation of many of the approaches that followed afterwards

  • Autocratic leaders ma...
The Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid
  • With a people-oriented style, you focus on organizing, supporting, and developing your team members. This participatory style encourages good teamwork and creative collaboration.
  • With task-oriented leadership, you focus on getting the job done. You define the work and the roles required, put structures in place, and plan, organize, and monitor work.

The best style to use is one that has both a high concern for people and a high concern for the task.

Path-Goal Theory

With this, you can identify the best leadership approach to use, based on your people's needs, the task that they're doing, and the environment that they're working in.

For example, highly-capable people, who are assigned to a complex task, will need a different leadership approach from people with low ability, who are assigned to an ambiguous task. (The former will want a participative approach, while the latter need to be told what to do.)