“Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The United States pauses today to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King, arguably one of the greatest leaders the world has known. Change leadership is most often discussed in the business community — but Dr. King’s leadership follows many of the key points and lessons.
Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric says:
“Change is simply the way the world works, and in business it can be the difference between success and failure.”
Tom Friedman, reporting on a discussion about the 21st Century with Sam Paul Misano, former CEO of IBM says:
“If he doesn’t have people on the line who can invent, re-engineer and reinvent their jobs while they’re doing it and then he can edit, inspire and enable it, there’s no way he can survive.”
If change is inevitable and necessary for survival, how do we lead it? Here are some key lessons synthesized from several sources.
1. Make people feel that the status quo unacceptable.
2. Paint a vivid and compelling vision to work toward.
3. Inspire and enable people to take action to work toward that vision.
Mr. Welch cautions leaders on the importance of lessons 1 and 2:
“But there has to be a reason for the change, and the reason has to make sense to those who are being asked to make the change.”
Dr. King’s most famous speech is the one where he most vividly paints his vision:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”