MLK Jr and Leadership

In Leadership by Chris Marlow3 Comments

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This year, I’m committed more than ever to learn from great historical leaders. I’m currently reading Bonhoeffer. (affiliate link) I also plan to read works by MLK Jr, Lincoln and Nelson Mandela in 2013.

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr’s life, he gives us a glimpse of what a great leader looks like.

These are some of the traits great leaders have. These traits were definitely displayed by MLK Jr,’s life. Of course he had many more, but here are five traits that all great leaders tend to have, including MLK Jr.

Five Traits that all great leaders have

1) They are deeply committed to seeing change happen. Their passion overcomes their fear.
2) They’re willing to sacrifice their own comfort and stability to lead the charge. (Each of the leaders I’m going to study in 2013 have all spent time in prison or were murdered for the causes they stood for.)
3) They never go alone, they aways have a team of people around them.
4) Change starts with a small handful of people and then the masses follow.
5) Longevity is vital. Each of these leaders fought for their dream for a long time. Change does not happen overnight. Great leaders demand change today, but they know it’s a process and will take time to see it come to fruition.

Leadership can be good or bad

Of course some leaders make a positive impact, while other leaders make a negative impact. The key is character. That seems to be the ONLY trait that separates good (MLK, Jr) and bad (Hitler).

So today we celebrate the life of MLK Jr. One way to celebrate this life is to ask ourselves this question:

“What can I do to make a positive difference in the world today?”

I would love to hear your answer!


  1. Chad Miller

    Sounds like a great reading plan. I remember the impact reading Letters from Birmingham Jail. It made an impact on my life. Reading about the lives of great men has definitely shaped what I do with my career, but I am desiring to make a change towards my whole life.

  2. Helen Parker

    Oh I actually had a bit of a laugh at myself when I read this second time round after just skimming the first read.
    Point two about sacrifice.
    When I first read it I though YEAH!! He’s right we all sacrifice so much… date nights, renting instead of buying a house, being away from family to promote the cause… I tick that box. AWESOME!
    And then I reread.
    You’re talking about those who have been in prison or killed!
    Got it.
    Maybe I’ll read some of what you’re reading.
    Great blog.

    1. Chris Marlow


      Well, I think sacrifice means both for sure. Most of us will never have to fear death of prison. But, it’s still hard to sacrifice the day to day, “little things.”
      We need to catch up soon!

      Chris Marlow
      Help One Now

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