Martin Luther King, Jr: The Great Communicator

Leadership Principle
He’s known throughout the world as THE great civil rights leader. He influenced presidents, politics, media, education, and the entire way we think about freedom and equality. As a result we have a holiday and about 10,000 roads (ok maybe that’s an exaggeration) named after him. No matter how you slice it, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an incredible leader. But why was he such an effective leader? He wasn’t the only educated leader of the day, and he certainly wasn’t the only one who suffered in a pre-civil rights America. The answer is, in part at least, his ability to communicate. He caught our imagination and painted a picture of how things COULD be. He inspired us when he spoke and made us want to take action. We can learn a lot from Dr. King and how he communicated.

Communication is a vital (and often overlooked) ingredient for success. Dr. James Wetherbe of Texas Tech University asserts that eighty percent of our problems (individually and collectively) are not problems at all, they’re just MISUNDERSTANDINGS! Think of it, if you could communicate perfectly you would eliminate EIGHTY PERCENT of your problems. The American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) asked the most successful graduates from the top ten schools of business what the single most important leadership skill that lead to their success was. Their answer: interpersonal communication skills.

Scriptural Support
If something is important for leadership then you’ve got to assume that Jesus was amazingly good at it. And that is exactly the case with His communication skills. His teachings, stories and parables were timely, illustrative and inspiring. So much so, that we still quote them two thousand years after His life. And they are as relevant now as they were back then. I’d say that He definitely passed the communication test.

So What?
If you want to be an effective leader, you HAVE to be a great communicator. A fantastic resource for this topic (and my favorite book ever) is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Comments: What do you think? Is communication really that important?


2 thoughts on “Martin Luther King, Jr: The Great Communicator

  1. I think the most difficult kind of communication is with those whom we love the most. If we could become proficient at communicating with our children/wive/husband/relatives, we’d pretty much be masters at communicating with the masses. Such a difficult and noble trait to obtain. Boy how grateful I am for the example of our Savior.

    fyi, “In 2006, Derek Alderman, a cultural geographer at East Carolina University, reported the number (of streets named after MLK) had increased to 730, with only 11 states in the country without a street named after King.” (,_Jr.)

  2. Dr. King was an effective communicator, but he was also an effective leader. While communication is a huge part of leadership, other values are also very important. If King had not been courageous and determined, as well as ambitious and intelligent, he likely would not have had the impact that he did. The timing was also right for someone to step on to the scene and make a difference in civil rights during the turbulent 60s. He was able to lead the people because of his communication skills, and his character and personality.

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