Home > Free Essays > Business > Leadership Styles > Ethical Leadership: Martin Luther King

Ethical Leadership: Martin Luther King Research Paper

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Jul 18th, 2021


Martin Luther King Junior was an ethical leader whose ideologies and philosophies continue to guide and empower people to pursue their goals today. His actions and achievements transformed the experiences and liberties of many African Americans. This paper gives a detailed analysis of this individual, his outstanding qualities, and the best approaches for modeling positive ethical leadership behavior.

Analysis of the Selected Leader

As a religious leader, King exhibited the attributes of an ethical leader. He encouraged Christian believers to focus on civil disobedience and nonviolence as the best tactics for overcoming the challenge of oppression during the infamous Civil Rights Movement (CRM) period (Redziniak, 2016). This humanitarian leader used to work as a Christian minister and was affiliated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He performed diverse functions, including teaching core Christian beliefs and providing timely spiritual guidance to his followers.

King was born in the year 1929 in Atlanta. As a Southerner, he witnessed numerous forms of humiliation that members of his immediate family faced. While in High School, King developed good public-speaking abilities. He later joined Morehouse College where he formulated his religious goals. He would later pursue his academic objectives in the field of theology and eventually empowered more members of his community to stand up against oppression (Redziniak, 2016). His actions played a critical role towards supporting the emancipation of African Americans. He would later be assassinated at the age of 39 on April 4th, 1968.

Leadership Styles at SCLC

The contacted leaders at SCLC revealed that the Bible was the foundation of all ethical principles. High potential managers are expected to focus on a code that can make it easier for them to remain faithful, do what is right always, and show their followers the way (Bridges, 2019). Ministers and preachers are required to develop various attributes, including honesty, openness, and empathy. They should ensure that all believers receive timely guidance to overcome their spiritual challenges and eventually succeed in life.

Positive Attributes: Exemplary of Ethical Leadership

King exhibited various positive attributes that empowered him to achieve his potential. Some of them included charisma, optimism, honesty, openness, and commitment. He embraced the concept of deontology since it informed and guided most of his actions (Bridges, 2019). He believed in fairness and encouraged all followers and topmost managers to pursue their aims diligently.

Through the application of such attributes, King became an exemplar of ethical leadership. The power of such qualities created a sense of commitment and empowerment for all, thereby making many followers successful. Using such qualities, Luther guided others to embrace nonviolent and peaceful means to have their issues addressed (Bridges, 2019). His ideas continue to dictate the way SCLC promotes peace while at the same time putting God first.

Modeling Ethical Leadership for Others

King modeled positive, ethical leadership by creating and promoting a powerful policy for all followers. All individuals were expected to consider his actions and embrace the idea of morality. He communicated to them frequently, solved emerging problems, and promoted equality (Redziniak, 2016). He appreciated the fact that all people required diverse motivational approaches. Through the use of a positive community culture and empowerment tactics, King managed to model such desirable behaviors.

Modeling Personal Ethical Leadership

As a leader, I would consider the same approaches employed by this professional to replicate ethical behaviors in my workplace. I can do so by implementing a personalized strategy for all followers while at the same time introducing reinforcements, such as rewards (Hassan, 2015). I will also establish a moral code that will guide my followers to support each other. I will create teams founded on honesty, integrity, commitment, and respect.

Organizational Standards

Modeling ethical and positive leadership behavior is something that allows leaders to set acceptable standards for the selected organization. Since managers act as their followers’ role models, their actions and strategies usually become exemplars. Workers focus on the best culture that is founded on the ideals of such leaders (“About us,” n.d.). They act ethically, formulate appropriate personal philosophies, and pursue action plans that resonate with the mission statement of the organization. At SCLC, leaders promote various virtues that eventually become powerful standards for all stakeholders, such as charisma, empathy, optimism, sincerity, and honesty. Such ethical attributes continue to inform decision-making and strategy formulation at SCLC.

Essential Qualities

These three qualities are critical for people who want to model positive and ethical leadership behavior: honesty, charisma, and progressivism. Looking at the example of Martin Luther King, it is agreeable that he exhibited such attributes, thereby being able to achieve his aims. Followers, who will find it easier to act in accordance with the stipulated principles, solve existing problems, empower one another, and embrace the idea of morality (Hassan, 2015). The concept of progressivism encourages individuals to pursue outlined aims and eventually make their organizations profitable.


The above discussion has explained why leaders should model ethical and positive managerial behaviors to set the right standards. The case of Martin Luther King reveals how such a managerial approach can empower others, solve potential challenges, and ensure that people focus on their religious goals. Those who develop ethical leadership behaviors will emerge successful and transform their followers’ spiritual experiences.


(n.d.). Web.

Bridges, F. (2019). Forbes. Web.

Hassan, S. (2015). The Importance of ethical leadership and personal control in promoting improvement-centered voice among government employees. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 25(3), 697-719. Web.

Redziniak, R. (2016). The transformational leader – Martin Luther King Jr. Web.

This research paper on Ethical Leadership: Martin Luther King was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Research Paper sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2021, July 18). Ethical Leadership: Martin Luther King. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/ethical-leadership-martin-luther-king/

Work Cited

"Ethical Leadership: Martin Luther King." IvyPanda, 18 July 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/ethical-leadership-martin-luther-king/.

1. IvyPanda. "Ethical Leadership: Martin Luther King." July 18, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ethical-leadership-martin-luther-king/.


IvyPanda. "Ethical Leadership: Martin Luther King." July 18, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ethical-leadership-martin-luther-king/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Ethical Leadership: Martin Luther King." July 18, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ethical-leadership-martin-luther-king/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Ethical Leadership: Martin Luther King'. 18 July.

More related papers
Psst... Stuck with your
assignment? 😱
Psst... Stuck with your assignment? 😱
Do you need an essay to be done?
What type of assignment 📝 do you need?
How many pages (words) do you need? Let's see if we can help you!