Leadership Lessons: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man who changed the world. Like Gandhi and Mandela, he advocated peaceful methods in a world that so often looks to violence to affect social change. Ultimately, through leadership and brute perseverance, two traits needed to succeed in today’s small business environment, he helped to unify a country divided by weakness and hatred.

In our continuing series on great leadership we look to the lessons of Martin Luther King, Jr. through four of his most famous quotes.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

As a leader, you will have good times and bad. It’s easy to steer a ship through calm waters. The real question, though, is how will you handle the storm? Remember to keep a cool head and think through issues, don’t just respond. Try to look at the big picture and steer your company to avert crisis before it hits. But, if it does hit (and it inevitably will), remember that your people will take cues from the way you handle the situation. Step back, think, and show leadership in the trying times of your business.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

As a business owner, seeing where you are going is not always a luxury you will have. Faith is something that you have to have. I’ve always heard that the journey is half the fun, however, when you’re trying to push a product that will make or break your business and you’re in the middle, you may not feel this way. Sometimes, though, you just have to take the leap. Plan as much as you can, but don’t forget to act. You have to take that first step.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

The mission of business is to help others. If you focus on helping others, you will develop products and services that people will want. If they want your products, they will spend money with you. If they spend their money with you, you will be successful. Ask yourself, “What is my business doing for others?” This will help you determine the value of your product and help you hone your unique selling proposition.

“I have a dream…”

I’ve never spoken to anyone who was not moved by this speech (if you’ve somehow never seen the “I Have a Dream Speech, click here: http://ow.ly/sKJCs, but make sure to get out from under that rock first- it will improve WiFi reception). You can feel the passion in King’s voice. As a business owner, you have to provide that spark. It is your job to make people want to help you succeed. Every day, show your passion for your product or cause- because if you don’t, why would anyone else?

Happy MLK Day!

What are some of your favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes? What lessons did you take from them? Let us know in the comments section!

Harry Kierbow

Harry Kierbow

Harry Kierbow is the Director of Social Media for Commissions Inc (CINC), a real estate technology and marketing company. He's played professionally on Facebook (and other social networks) for more than 7 years now, managing campaigns for brands (both big and small) and individuals (also both big and small). Universally regarded as the greatest ice hockey goalie to ever come from Griffin, GA (by his mom at least), you can find Harry between the pipes on the ice rinks of Georgia (yes, there is more than one) or playing with his 2 kids when he's not perfecting social media ads or binging true crime documentaries on Netflix. Connect with Harry on LinkedIn @HarryKierbow.