What made Martin Luther King an extraordinary leader?

Harry Belafonte and Martin Luther King
Harry Belafonte and Martin Luther King
Harry Belafonte and Martin Luther King

On the 85th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s birthday, Fast Company looks behind the legend to the man, to highlight four attributes that profoundly contributed to his effectiveness as a transformative leader. MLK was extremely intentional about everything he did and said. In order to be effective in our intentionality – we must commit ourselves to constant self examination so that we can choose the best path as a leader.

1) Emotional Agility
Being aware enough of your emotions, and then choosing a response rather than reacting. What level of emotional agility do you possess – especially with the emotions of anger, confusion or fear? We will write on this more here at Courageous Thinking

2) Systems Thinking
We often focus too much on winning the battle, and lose sight of the war. No one thing creates sustainable change. It must occur within a system. What is the change we want to make? What is the larger system we need to effect, and work in, in order to make that change?

3) Occupy DC
To change a system, it takes a combination of critical mass and changing policy. MLK knew that DC was the platform he needed in order to cast his ‘Dream’. What platform do you need in order to create the change you are committed to?

4) Humor
It is scientifically proven that laughter creates positive physiological effects in addition to relational healing and fostering increased creative thinking. Where can you add appropriate humor to a situation?

Leadership does not require us to rise above our humanity, but to be aware of who we are, and to CHOOSE the best path to create healing and wholeness. Whether our change objective is within the spheres of civic, corporate, mission or social success – we must be intimately aware of who we are, and choose our response and strategy.