Martin Luther King’s Leadership in Historical Context Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer

The Historical Context of Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King is one of the historical leaders who used conventional leadership models to inspire and mobilize a large number of people during the civil rights movements. King had the leadership attributes that ranged from charisma to transformational. King portrayed the leadership attributes that were well-regarded by the historical leadership scholars such as Du Bois and Lao-tzu (Wren, 1995). The ideological commitment, articulation of the values, and the goals of the civil rights movements made King one of the leaders of all time.

The Characteristics that Made Martin Luther a Good Leader

One of the attributes of King was charisma. King was a charismatic figure who could instigate the path of the civil rights movements through his oratory. King could bind the believers of the civil rights movement during the southern black struggle (Gladwell, 2010). Martin Luther was revered as a decisive factor during the process of social change (Gladwell, 2010).

The Leadership Actions of Martin Luther

King played a critical role in organizing and coordinating the civil rights movements. Martin Luther motivated and became the central figure in the mass movement. Luther used his position to empower, collaborate, coordinate, and voice the concerns of the black minority (Gladwell, 2010).

How the Leader Inspired and Developed Others

Martin Luther King’s charisma inspired blacks during the mass movement through ideological commitment. The majority of the social movement held to a common ideology that challenged the status quo and attacked the deeply rooted problems (Gladwell, 2010). Besides, Martin Luther King believed remained committed and articulated the values as well as the goals of the civil rights movements. The strong-tie phenomena that King advocated contributed hugely to the success of civil rights movements (Gladwell, 2010).

The Leadership Characteristics

Historical and current concepts of leadership embrace the transformational and proactive leadership attributes. The leadership attributes allow leaders to act outside their demeanor to come up with decisions for the greater good of the followers (Shriberg, Shribert & Kumari, 2005). Transformational leaders do not satisfy their ego rather motivate the followers to believe in their abilities to work as a team for the betterment of society (Wren, 1995). Successful teams work together, share their strengths, draw from their diverse experiences, prefer encouragement, and provide feedback to attain the common goal. Therefore, transformative and proactive attributes should be encouraged and developed.

Whether Leadership Attributes are Relevant in Different Historical Contexts

Leadership is a traditionally existing occurrence. In other words, the structures and methods of leadership are constantly being transformed. The attributes of good leadership are not congruent in all places and times. Leadership ability to influence events and outcomes depend on the flexibility that allows the abandonment of policy instruments and ideologies inapplicable in the new environment. Therefore, the attributes of leaders at one particular time may or may not be successful at another time.

How Social Forces Influence the Leadership Development

Social, political, cultural, and economic factors shape leadership methods, attributes, and processes. These are environmental forces that influence leadership development. Evidence suggests that strategic and tactical innovations, as well as adaptations in leadership structures, are crucial for effective leadership in a different set of regime types and the cultural contexts.


Gladwell, M. (2010). Small change. The New Yorker, 86(30), 42–49.

Shriberg, A., Shribert, D. L. & Kumari, R. (2005). Practicing leadership: Principles and applications. New York, NY: Wiley.

Wren, J. T. (1995). The leader’s companion: Insights on leadership through the ages. New York, NY: Three Free Press

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