In celebration of Martin Luther King Day, on Monday I wrote an article titled Martin Luther King and The Power Of Liberating Beliefs. In our fast moving world, we mark special events, like Martin Luther King Day, only to forget about them the next day. One day #MLKDay is trending on Twitter. The next it isn’t.
That’s why I’ve decided to pause for a moment and explore more deeply what made King such a great leader of the civil rights movement. And what we, as leaders, can learn from his example.
Here are five leadership lessons I believe we can learn from Martin Luther King.
In April 1963, Dr Martin Luther King was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama, for disobeying a ban on demonstrations. Using scraps of paper given to him by a janitor, notes written on the margins of a newspaper, and later a legal pad given to him by SCLC attorneys, King wrote his essay “Letter From Birmingham Jail“.
King wrote his “Letter From Birmingham Jail” in response to a newspaper article titled “A Call for Unity,” a statement made by eight white Alabama clergymen against King and his methods.
I recently started following Elizabeth Cronise-McLaughlin, a former attorney turned leadership coach who runs daily Facebook Lives on her profile as part of the Resistance movement. Earlier this week she shared a list of her activities in 2017.
Elizabeth’s accomplishments blew me away.
During 2017, Elizabeth taped roughly 188 #ResistanceLive broadcasts, gained 40,681 friends and followers (up from 1100 or so at the time of the 2016 US election) and had her posts on Facebook liked 2,294,901 times. She trained and coached around 120 high-profile officers at a publicly-traded investment bank, built a community of 48 female activist leaders leadership and certified 25 new coaches in her Gaia Project for Women’s Leadership methodology.
And that’s just for starters!
It may have been a victory by the narrowest of margins, but last week voters in Alabama stood for victims of harassment and abuse. They stood for women. They stood for compassion. And they stood for decency. This good news from America was a rare moment to lift the spirits.
Because the way some people in Alabama treated the women who accused Roy Moore of making sexual advances (on girls as young as 14 when he was in his 30s) can be seen as a message to those who have been abused and/ or experienced sexual harassment, to those who someday will. A message that they are believed and have our support.
However naturally positive we are, we will probably all agree that 2018 is going to be at least as challenging as 2017, possibly more so. Difficult economic times, volatile world events, a lack of talent and fast-changing technology make it a high priority to future proof our business.
I know this only too well from experience. The financial crash of 2007-8 may seem like eons ago now. But I still remember how difficult it was getting financial investment for the company I was CEO of. The straitened financial circumstances that resulted by the crash meant I had to rapidly re-appraise our 5-year strategic plan and re-think our plans for expansion.
Reading about keeping a weekly gratitude journal, and how this leads to increased optimism, got me thinking about the role of gratitude in business.
“Thank you.” Two words that not only have the power to transform our performance, health and happiness. But they’re also essential for a healthy, happy working environment.