The principles of leadership can be taught to a student of leadership in many different formats. One can study the characteristics of a great leader or study the behavior and actions of other great leaders. To take a class, read a book, attend a seminar, or read an article about the subject matter are other methods of gaining knowledge and insight into the leadership.
This particular article will describe leadership principles in a different way. It will present a story to show pragmatically the lessons of the principles of leadership. Putting the principles into actual practical use, by one’s own action, is where the “tire meets the road.” This little story was in a book entitled, Virtues of Leadership, by William J. Bennett.
In January 1956, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., left his home to attend a meeting at a nearby church. During the meeting someone came into the church with news for King; “Your home has been bombed.” Rev. King upset and anxious, especially because his wife and baby were in the house at the time of the bombing in Montgomery, Alabama.
As King rushed home, he found a large number of people in the house. The bomb had actually exploded on his front porch raining glass into the living room. After checking on his wife and daughter he turn attention to the angry crowd.
People who gathered outside of the house wanted revenge against whoever had done this terrible act. Some of them were actually carrying guns and were shouting at the police. The situation was about to turn to chaos and become violent. He told the crowd in a calm voice that his wife and child were fine.
Silence had fallen over the crowd as he began to speak to them. He indicated to the crowd that violence was not the answer. He explained that violence would harm their cause, it would not solve their problems. As of matter of fact, it would make it worst. He indicated that the teachings of the Bible: “We must meet hate with love.” He told them, to put down their weapons and to go home.
The crowd’s demeanor started to change. People began to become calm and some said “Amen” and others said “God Bless You.” At a moment of chaos and anger, Rev. King seized the moment to show true leadership. The crowd responded to this and started to drift apart and go home. As events unfolded, photographs were being taken and the next morning newspapers across the country ran the photos on the front page. The Civil Rights Movement began to swell; this was a turning point in history! Under pressure a great man put personal virtues into action in the form of true leadership.
Rev. King’s virtues included courage, wisdom, and faith. He had a certain vision and the talent to progress that vision forward with leadership. His virtues also included compassion, perseverance, and faith. We all should strive to have these virtues, character and traits as our own. These virtues will allow us to operate with a calm clear mind under pressure. They will assist in guiding us in areas of moral and ethical situations. One of the great principles of leadership is ones own character. The virtues Rev. Kind exhibited that day were:
William J. Bennett, The Book of Virtues, W Publishing Group, a Division of Thomas Nelson, In., Nashville, Tennessee, 2001
Al Mozingo is a nationally recognized leadership instructor and a 30-year veteran of the Fire Service. Mr. Mozingo’s teaches for the National Fire Academy, State Fire Training, and Local Fire Academy. He has a wide range of programs available. You can contact him to present a leadership program at your location today: www.firemanager.com or (619) 447-2828
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