Monday, January 17, 2011

Leadership, Dr. King and, The Drum Major Instinct

And what will you do when you get there?

I was honored to be a part of the Martin Luther King Legacy Awards breakfast with my colleagues from Powers Agency this morning. By “a part,” of course I mean that I sat there and drank their coffee and ate their turkey sausage.

And applauded. A lot. And almost cried a couple of times, but enough about me.

At the end of the program, one of the honorees, Mr. Barron Witherspoon, presented an excerpt from one of the last sermons Martin Luther King delivered: The Drum Major Instinct.

In short, it’s about our (very human) need to be important and draw attention to ourselves. I swear, it’s not an indictment of actual drum majors.

Ambition is a good thing. There’s great common good in the incentive people have to improve themselves, their lives.

But on its own … without another objective …

Many people aspire to leadership positions for status.

Others for prestige.

Even more to satisfy the expectations they have for themselves or those of their families.

There is no shortage of people who want to be in charge … who want to sit in the big chair and make the tough decisions. But before they aspire to that position, they (and those who might put them there) need to ask, “Why?”

What would you actually DO if you were in charge tomorrow?

Leadership requires vision. It’s not enough to be able to read a compass or find your position on a map.

So: Where is your ship headed?