There are some traits that make good leaders, one of which is drive. Drive is a trait in most leaders that is composed of five parts including achievement, ambition, energy, tenacity, and initiative. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had all these components of drive and many other attributes of a leader. It is evident that he composes drive, in most circumstances including in his letter from Birmingham jail, the March on Washington, and when he won a noble peace prize for his efforts in the Civil Rights Movement.
In early 1963 Dr. King was in jail along with 50 other people for protesting in Birmingham, Alabama for equality. When he was in jail, he still worked towards equality and inspired his followers by writing a letter that is now infamously known as “The Letter from Birmingham Jail”. By continuing efforts for his cause even though he was in jail shows great tenacity. “Leaders must be tirelessly persistent in their activities and follow through with their programs.” (Wren, 1995, p.136) Even being in jail could not keep Dr. King from continuing his leadership role in the Civil Rights Movement. His tenacity was shown in this situation by still working towards his cause, even though he faced challenges that would set most people even farther back.
Dr. King and other civil rights leaders led a march on Washington later in 1963. The March on Washington showed the country Dr. King’s and other civil rights leaders’ ambition, persistence, and hope for a brighter future. “To advance, leaders actively take steps to demonstrate their drive and determination.” (Wren,1995, p.135) While there are many important moments in the Civil Rights Movement the March on Washington and Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech inspired people to make a change and take a stand. Dr. King showed ambition in the March on Washington not only by literally taking steps to advance his cause but also by being there, in a place that means so much to so many people. It showed ambition because it showed the lengths that he and the movement was willing to go to and how they will no longer wait for change but make the change.
At 35 years old, in 1964 Dr. King won a Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent movement for Civil Rights. Anyone can tell that the Nobel Peace Prize was important, but it was not his goal. His goal was for Civil Rights and even though he died before the world changed for the better, he was the driving force of change. “leaders must have a desire to complete challenging assignments and projects.” (Wren,1995, p.135). Winning a Nobel Peace Prize was a major achievement for Dr. King. Dr. King used the Nobel Peace Prize to his advantage and to further the campaign for equal rights. Even though he did not live to see the full extent of Civil Rights, he did win a Nobel Peace Prize which is an achievement held by a few.
As a future leader I can learn several life lessons not to mention leadership lessons from Dr. King. From learning about him as a leader I know to never give up and always persevere. He never gave up, even being in jail could not keep him from furthering his cause. I also learned the violence is never the answer. It is better to use the power of words and acts of nonviolence, for example protests. Dr. King was a peaceful, gracious, inspiring, and effective leader. The kind of leader aspire to be.