People Will Naturally Follow a Leader Who Cares

Does valuing the human being more that the human doing produce better results?


A great leader doesn’t forget to acknowledge the people they are leading. Many so-called “leaders” forget the simple principles of human dignity and respect, which usually results in failure to accomplish their goals and a lost following. 

In this video, leadership expert Troy Jackson talks about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and why people naturally followed him because he was an empathetic leader.

Dr. Martin Luther King's last campaign, which ultimately was the place where he was assassinated, was in Memphis, Tennessee. And he went there because African-American garbage men and sanitation workers were on strike over working conditions. A few African American sanitation workers had been crushed to death in—because they were overworked and had fallen asleep—in an actual garbage truck. The pay was bad. There was no overtime. The hours were long. The treatment was bad. It was not safe. There were all sorts of issues that they were facing. They were paid less than Whites in similar jobs. All sorts of things that they could have said to lead and complex problems around racial and economic justice in that moment.

But the phrase and the slogan they chose to demonstrate what they cared about and what really mattered at the heart of it all was a simple phrase. Four simple words. No word longer than three letters. "I am a man." "I am a man." And they wore placards with that simple message on it. At the end of the day Dr. King went and ultimately died for a movement to simply make sure that our systems and structures and in that case, the people of Memphis; the leaders of Memphis recognized the human dignity of every single person in their community, including the Sanitation Workers. "I am a man."

At the end of the day, what really makes a strong, powerful leader is someone who has a following; is someone who actually knows the names and recognizes the human dignity and value of every person in their organization and that's around them. That treats the secretary, the administrator, the person who cleans the restrooms, that treats people - recognizing that every person is a man or woman of inherent dignity and ought to be valued.

Troy Jackson

Leadership expert Troy Jackson has been involved in community organizing for four years—first as a volunteer leader and then as a faith organizer in Cincinnati and throughout Ohio. He has been actively involved in calling for comprehe...

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