Some of the greatest leaders that have been in the world in the past include Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This paper will examine their leadership characteristics and how the characteristics were different from those of other leaders. The writer will give a recommendation on the areas that I should do better to become a good leader and decision-maker in line with the characteristics of these leaders.
Leadership is the ability of an individual or an organization to influence others towards achieving a particular goal. A leader should be in a position to establish a clear mission and vision. They should then share the vision with the rest of the people in the organization. Also, leaders should own information regarding the vision, and they should provide that information to the people they lead. Resultantly, leaders should organize the firm in a balanced manner so that it can move as a unit towards the set goals.
Leaders should be able to make decisions. Decision making is the ability to choose the best alternative out of the many available options. Leaders have some unique characteristics that help them in their leadership. For instance, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had some unique features that made them great leaders of their time.
Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States of America. He was one of the greatest presidents in the country and reigned between 1861 and 1865 when he was assassinated. Lincoln is recognized for having led the United States during the civil war, which is among the bloodiest wars that the country has been engaged in (Bowman, 2011). Below are some of the characteristics that made Abraham Lincoln a great leader.
First, Lincoln was a good listener; he would pay attention to the different views of various people. He knew when to listen to the discussions and when to stop them and make the right and final decisions (Bowman, 2011). Listening to all views would help him get a broad range of alternatives and be in a position to make the best decision regarding the issue at hand. Secondly, Lincoln could learn; he would acknowledge and learn from his mistakes. As a result, he would be in a better position not to make the mistake again and would make informed decisions. Third, he was aware of his weaknesses (Scouller, 2011).
Consequently, he established ways of compensating for the weaknesses to avoid failure (Bowman, 2011). For instance, Lincoln was known to give too many chances to people. Fourth, Lincoln was willing to accept his mistakes and share the blame. If his cabinet made a mistake, he would stand by them in defense. For instance, during the civil war, contracts raised serious concerns about one of his administration members. Lincoln stood in defense and said that the entire cabinet together with him was to blame.
Churchill was the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister between the years 1940 and 1945, and for a second spell between 1951 and 1955. Churchill served in the British military, in addition to being a historian. He became the first person in history to be offered an honorary United States of America citizenship. He also won a Nobel Prize in the literature (Mears, 2009). Churchill was one of the greatest leaders in history. Some of the characteristics that made him a great leader were:
First, Churchill had excellent communication skills; he was able to articulate himself eloquently and clearly to the people he led. He was a visible leader and would often be seen visiting houses and factories talking to people. His ability to interact with people and address them made him a great leader who was liked by the Britons (Mears, 2009). Secondly, Churchill had a passion for what he did. This is an excellent character that not only gives leaders a motivation, but it also gives them the strength to do what they like and achieve their goals. Churchill was dedicated to everything he did, which made him an outstanding leader. Thirdly, he was a decisive leader; he could make significant decisions. He was able to make clear decisions and would stand by his decisions, whether they were popular or not.
Persistence was the other character that made Churchill a great leader (Martin, 2006). He was not the kind that gives up easily. He worked hard to achieve what he wanted. He was also committed to doing something effective each day. Finally, Churchill was an honest leader; he was transparent and acknowledged the fact that he would not be trusted by people if he was not transparent. He lived an honest life, which made people like him.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a humanitarian and an activist who led the African-American civil rights movement (Baldwin, Burrow & Fairclough, 2013). King Jr. was involved in promoting civil rights from a Christian standpoint. Among the characters that made him a great leader include:
King Jr. had excellent communication skills; he was one of the greatest orators of all time. He could give excellent speeches that would influence big crowds. Communication is an important characteristic of any leader (Baldwin, Burrow & Fairclough, 2013). King Jr. was also a brave leader; he was able to lead the civil rights movements during an era when the white Americans were harsh on African Americans. It took King Jr.’s courage to successfully lead the civil rights movement.
Patience is another characteristic that led to his success in leadership; King Jr. was patient as he waited long for the end of segregation, holding successive meetings and demonstrations. He was a trustworthy leader. As a result, people believed in him and trusted what he told them, making it easy for him to lead (Miramontes, 2008). The followers had full confidence in him. Finally, King Jr. was a persistent leader; he never gave up and was always committed to achieving his goals. As a result, he would not be diverted easily by anything.
To be a good and successful leader, it is always important to understand the characteristics that made great leaders in the past. Great leaders have unique features that distinguish them from the rest. The leaders described above have many characteristics that one requires to be a successful leader. I will need to be persistent in my quest to become a great leader as this was a common character among the great leaders. I will also need to learn how to communicate excellently. To learn this, I should be a good listener to enable me to gather sufficient information. Listening skills will also allow me to make informed decisions. Being a brave a decisive leader is important as it will help me to stand with my decisions, regardless of the situations as long as they are right.
Baldwin, L. V., Burrow, R., & Fairclough, A. (2013). The domestication of Martin Luther King Jr: Clarence B. Jones, right-wing conservatism, and the manipulation of the King legacy. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books. Web.
Bowman, C. H. (2011). Abraham Lincoln’s transformational leadership. Harrogate, TN: Lincoln Memorial University. Web.
Martin, B. (2006). Outdoor leadership: Theory and practice. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Web.
Mears, M. (2009). Leadership elements: A guide to building trust. New York, NY: iUniverse. Web.
Miramontes, G. (2008). A qualitative study examining leadership characteristics of Mexican leaders. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest LLC. Web.
Scouller, J. (2011). The three levels of leadership: How to develop your leadership presence, knowhow, and skill. Oxford, United Kingdom: Management Books 2000. Web.