In honor of this week’s observance of Martin Luther King, Jr., I am re-posting this blog originally published on January 19, 2015. I think it bears repeating.

Consider this. When Martin Luther King, Jr. announced the March on Washington in August 28, 1963, organizers hoped for a gathering of 100,000 protesters to generate enough political force to mobilize the government into action. No one could be sure how many would answer the call. Yet, they came in droves.

They came by train from New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago. They loaded onto buses from Boston, Milwaukee, and Little Rock.They drove by car from Maryland and Virginia. They flew in from San Diego and Seattle.

At 7:00 a.m. that summer morning, ten people set up their own folding chairs near the Reflecting Pool. By 10:30 a.m., nearly 20,000 milled around the Mall. By the time the formal rally started at 1:15 p.m., the crowd packed across the mile long grassy area from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument and stretched a mile northward to Connecticut Avenue. Some took positions in the trees in front of the Lincoln Memorial. In the end, nearly 250,000 people packed around the Reflecting Pool in sweltering 83° heat.

Half a million people came of their own volition. They came because they heard the call in their guts. Martin Luther King, Jr. had no authority over them. He had nothing tangible to offer them when they arrived. He could not even guarantee them safe travel. Yet, he had tapped into their human desire to dream, to grow, and to belong. He used his formidable influence not to serve himself, but to share a vision and help others achieve their potential. That’s the power of transformative leadership.

Question: Do you know transformative leaders who inspire others to achieve their full potential?

 

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