Looking at the lives of historical figures, you’ll find countless examples of good leadership. Throughout history, many different types of people chose to lead in various ways, but one of the most successful is to be an example for others.
Leading by example is one of the most effective ways to gain the trust and loyalty of those around you, because it makes everyone feel included in the success, the failures, and the struggles along the way. It builds faith in the community, and oftentimes leads to overwhelming success.
Who are some of the greatest leaders who portray this leadership style and what can we learn from them? These three leaders are especially memorable for the way they led by example.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. isn’t just one of the greatest leaders of all time, he’s also one of the most recognizable figures in history. As the most active and visible spokesperson of the American civil rights movement, he spoke out about the struggles and challenges of racial inequality.
He did more than speak, though … he participated and helped plan several nonviolent demonstrations and marches to spread awareness and combat the violence directed at the African American community. One of his most famous moments came from the 1963 March on Washington, which he helped organize. In front of the 250,000 people in attendance and the millions of people watching from their television screens, Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
As a man, he deeply cared about the civil rights of human beings (especially those living under harsh circumstances in the United States), but as a leader he was able to demonstrate how to reach the masses. He connected with people, and showed them how to accomplish their goals without violence and hate.
As an Indian lawyer who displayed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India’s independence from British rule, Mahatma Gandhi inspired a generation of freedom fighters. In fact, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. cited Gandhi as one of his biggest idols and influencers for his own actions.
While living in South Africa, Gandhi worked as a lawyer, where he developed a passion for civil rights. He took these beliefs and experiences back to his homeland of India in 1915. It was here where he led the movement for India’s independence through his teachings of nonviolent protest. He helped people become educated on what was happening to them and what they could do to stop it. In 1921, he was elected as the leader of the India National Congress. He continued to fight for freedom from the British colonizers who controlled the country.
Gandhi never stood aside and gave orders to his followers. He was always present at the demonstrations, an active participant in each instance. He never asked his followers to do something he wouldn’t do himself, and for that, he was widely respected.
Eleanor Roosevelt served as the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She is considered by many to be the first to use the position to create positive change in the world. During her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, Eleanor was the first presidential spouse to hold regular press conferences, write a daily newspaper column, write a monthly magazine column, host a weekly radio show, and speak at a national party convention.
It would have been easy for her to sit back and enjoy her position as the most powerful woman in the free world. But Eleanor knew she could lead some people to great causes. She was not only an influential figure for women’s rights, but also for those looking to inspire others with their own actions.
Start being a leader, today.
These historical figures did not become influential leaders overnight. They worked hard and faced consequences for their actions, but it was all in the name of the greater good. They showed how change was possible because they got out there and did it themselves. What’s stopping you from doing the same?
Looking for more motivation? Here are three inspirational quotes from classic literature.