#037: 8 Leadership Lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr. [Podcast]

On the third Monday of each January in the U.S., we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. As you know, he was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.


Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/jcarillet

Dr. King was an eloquent preacher and gave a famous speech, “I Have a Dream,” that defined the aspirations of that movement, not only for his generation but for generations to come.

I think it is particularly appropriate, in view of the upcoming holiday, to devote a podcast episode to the this speech. I urge you to take time to watch this speech and experience what Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is all about.

While the speech is a masterpiece of rhetoric—one of the top ten best speeches ever given, in my opinion—I believe it also provides eight key insights into what it takes to be a truly great leader.

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  • Insight 1: Great leaders do not sugar-coat reality.
  • Insight 2: Great leaders engage the heart.
  • Insight 3: Great leaders refuse to accept the status quo.
  • Insight 4: Great leaders create a sense of urgency.
  • Insight 5: Great leaders call people to act in accord with their highest values.
  • Insight 6: Great leaders refuse to settle.
  • Insight 7: Great leaders acknowledge the sacrifice of their followers.
  • Insight 8: Great leaders paint a vivid picture of a better tomorrow.

Listener Questions

  1. Alex Barker asked, “What do you think Dr. King would want to teach us if he were alive today?”
  2. Christopher Scott asked, “How do you cast vision for volunteers?”
  3. Cor Chmieleski asked, “How do you pursue a vision undeterred while remaining receptive to the input of those you are leading?
  4. Kim Goad asked, “What if you are fresh out of a vision and need inspiration?”
  5. Matthew Green “How important do you think it is for leaders to work on character, integrity, and discipline—something that no one may ever see?”
  6. Phil Mershon asked “How can you lead team members to perform at their best without micro-managing them
  7. Rob Still asked, “What does Dr. King have to teach us about overcoming discouragement, especially when our ideas are rejected by those in power and authority”

Special Announcements

  1. On Thursday, January 17, we will be opening the membership to Platform University. This is a project I and my team have been working on for months.

    My book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, only scratched the surface. Platform University is going to pick up where that left off and dive deeper, bringing you the insights and tools you need to build a platform that gets you, your brand, your cause noticed.

    I strongly encourage you to visit Platformuniversity.com to learn more. We have already posted two videos that will give you some important background and a sense of what is to come. And tomorrow, we will be posting the third video there that explains it all.

  2. We still have a few tickets left for the Platform Conference, which will be held here in Nashville on February 11–13, 2013—just about a month away. This conference is for anyone who wants to jump start their platform or take it to the next level.

    If you are an author, public speaker, blogger, recording artist, business owner, entrepreneur, sales person, mortgage broker, pastor, or corporate brand manager, this conference is for you!

  3. My next podcast will be on the topic of “taking control of your inner story.” If you have a question on this subject, please leave me a voicemail message. This is a terrific way to cross-promote YOUR blog or website, because I will link to it, just like I did with the callers in this episode.

Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here, courtesy of Ginger Schell, a professional transcriptionist, who handles all my transcription needs.

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