Leadership Assignment

Topics: Wal-Mart, Sam Walton, Leadership Pages: 5 (1818 words) Published: October 11, 2012
Up to now, the world has embraced its treasure of a list of many famous and effective leaders who majorly changed and greatly devoted to the development of mankind. In this paper, I will choose Martin Luther King Jr and Sam Walton as the two examples to analyze, compare and contrast, in order to have a more thorough and deep understanding of their leadership styles and, therefore, present my opinion on choosing the more effective leader. This paper will include a short summary of typical life events of the two leaders and analysis of some similarities and differences between them. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR (1929-1968)

Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the son of a Baptist minister. He grew up in his father’s footsteps and got his bachelor of divinity in 1951 and his doctorate in 1955. Early in December, 1955, he became the leader of the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States. In 1957, he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. On August 28, 1963, he delivered “I have a dream”, his famous speech, in which he called for racial equality and an end to discrimination, to 250,000 people. Martin was awarded five honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure. At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Sam Walton was born on 1918 in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. The poverty he experienced while growing up taught him the value of money and to persevere. Walton always wanted to be in retail from his youth and he had a deep passion for it. When he returned from World War II, he started off with a Ben Franklin franchise. His strategy of buying in bulk and discounting proved to be a hit with the customers and it was then that he saw a future in discounting. Over time, he opened up several more Ben Franklin stores with his father and brother assistance. In 1962, he had the idea of opening bigger stores, sticking to rural areas, keeping costs low and discounting heavily. He decided to set up his own Wal-mart store; the first one in Arkansas. With his Wal-mart, he began to use the discounting strategy that he had begun to adopt in the Ben Franklin stores. It proved to be wildly successful and he saw that discounting was the future of retail. Today, Wal-Mart is the world's no.1 retailer, with more than 4,150 stores, including discount stores, combination discount and grocery stores, and membership-only warehouse stores (Sam's Club).

Transformational leadership is a process that changes and transforms individuals. It is an ability of a leader to make people want to improve, transform and to be led to achieve the developed vision (Northouse, 2001). Transformational leaders are often charismatic, but are not as narcissistic as pure Charismatic leaders, who succeed through a belief in themselves rather that a belief in others. Both Martin and Sam have this style of leadership as presented below. Martin’s famous “I have a dream” speech shows just exactly what kind of leader he was. As a symbol of nonviolence doctrine, he was described by some as having a unique way of getting people to work together rather than fight. He tried to inspire people with his vision of a racial equality future, but he also appealed vitally to neutrals in a way that negated more conservative voices. That he travelled over six millions miles and gave over 2,500 speeches to fight for civil rights proved that he is a true transformational leader who “walks the talk”, together with the followers developing the vision and changing it into actions. “From the outset of his career in Montgomery in 1955, right...
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