Martin Luther King Jar. 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 1 957, 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, e delivered “l 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, Jar. , was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. SAMUEL MOORE WALTON (1918-1992) 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 Wall-mart store; the first one in Arkansas. With his Wall-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, Wall-Mart is the world’s no. L retailer, with more than 4,150 stores, including discount stores, combination discount and grocery stores, and membership-only warehouse stores (Cam’s Club).
SIMILARITIES: TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP: Transformational leadership is a process that changes and transforms individuals. It is an ability of a leader to make people want to improve, ransom and to be led to achieve the developed vision (Morehouse, 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 “l 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 e also appealed vitally to neutrals in a way that negated more conservative voices. That he traveled 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 through to his death in 1968, King had a remarkable ability to get people, who would otherwise be constantly feuding, to work together. He was consistently reluctant to sever or sour relations with anyone who might help the cause. This was particularly important because a by-product of racism was a pronounced tendency to factionalism inside the black community. King became the vital centre – a point of balance and unity” (Ling, 2003).
Martin’s transformational leadership also reflects in his dare to question the status-quo and takes the risk to venture into UN-chartered territories. This can be considered as one of the defining characteristics of real leaders. While Martin walked the talk by traveling six millions miles to deliver his speech, Sam Walton showed his appreciation for hat the followers did by often visiting Wall-Mart stores across the country to meet with them.
He chose not to sit behind a desk but rather walking around on the floor with his fellow associates, whether it is in stores or in distribution centers as well. A leader “keeps people focused on moving the organization toward its ideal future, motivating them to overcome whatever obstacles lie in the way ‘ (Bateman & Snell, 2009), Sam not only talked of his vision, he lived it himself and shared his belief, passion and vision with all the employees in the organization. According to Michael Beverage (2006), Sam is a person who never gives up, and optimistic.
He didn’t start off with the ambition to be rich, he just followed his dream and devoted to his business, and at each point of time he only wanted to make it better and better. He constantly learned from his competitors but doing in his own ways. Sam doesn’t like to follow others; he sets his own rules and blazes his own path. He dared to take risk, even though he admitted that the first 90% he always failed when taking a risk. But as reality proves itself, Cam’s dare to question the status-quo was one of the factors that dead to his successful.
SERVANT LEADERSHIP: According to Hughes et al (2012), the leaders role of servant leadership is literally to serve others. A servant leader is one who offers an inclusive vision, listens carefully to others, persuades through reason and heals divisions while building community. Martin is known as a servant leader. He listens to others’ thought and opinion. For example, “in private meetings, he was generally quiet. He listened while others argued, often angrily and at length, and then he would calmly sum up the debate and identify a way forward” (Ling, 2003).
When facing tit a problem, he looked for solutions that benefit everyone. He told everyone the same story, even when it is inconvenient or difficult. Sam is also a perfect example for servant leadership. “Sam Walton never asked anyone else to do anything that he hadn’t already proven he was willing to do himself’ (Beverage, 2006). He taught his entire leadership team at Wall-Mart to use ‘Golden Rule Values’ in their dealings with the associates. He aimed to make working at Wall- Mart fun and rewarding to all employees.
They even have their own cheer to boost associates morale and organizational spirit. Wall-Mart is like one big family and likes to make their associates feel like they are an important part of keeping the doors open. Sam is also known for his humble and modest characteristics. Unlike other top executives who tend to build a gap with front-line employees, throughout his life, Sam often visited the front lines of every store. Sam Wallow’s leadership style is close to the employee coloring corporate culture of Wall-Mart today.
One of the 10 famous rules of Sam Walton is listening to everyone in the company and getting them to speak their mind. Every associates opinion counts. Associates are encouraged to talk with management. But the goal every associate within Wall-Mart has is that they want to serve their customers to the best of their ability. DIFFERENCES: SAM WALTON – TEAM-ORIENTED LEADERSHIP: Cam’s management style emphasized the importance of employees through a team-oriented approach.
He believed that success belongs to the whole team, not individuals; therefore, he tried to do the best for his team (employees) and took extremely good care of them. He began one of the first profit-sharing programs so that employees could benefit from their own hard work beyond just their hourly wage. He also offered stock options and employee discounts to share the success and credit with him long before these types of incentives were commonplace. SAM WALTON – REWARD POWER: According to Hey (1992), Sam was an active user of reward power.
He relied heavily on the intangible awards, indicating that “nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They are absolutely free-and worth a fortune”. MARTIN – AUTHORITATIVE LEADERSHIP: Martin’s ability in monopolizing a nation towards a vision clearly proved his authoritative leadership. In his famous speech “I have a dream”, he expressed his vision and explained the path to this freedom. He was speaking with authority, he knew what the future could look like, and he needed his followers to understand how he wanted to achieve this vision.
During his speech, he exemplified the “come with me” characteristic associated with authoritative leaders. * In my own opinion, it is hard to say which one is the more effective leader, for they are in different fields and dedicated to the world in different ways. However, Sam appears to be the more effective leader to me. He found ways to connect with the associates, seeking and listening to others’ opinions (employees and customers), sharing his success with associates and providing them with kinds of rewards.
He modestly blended in with the whole team, erased the gap between executive and employees, and dared to make his own path of success. If it was not for these great characteristics and tactics, there wouldn’t be a Sam Walton who has the ability to change the philosophy of the American retail business establishment. CONCLUSION: Martin Luther King Jar and Sam Walton are both respectful and brilliant leaders ho drove the world and changed it into a better place.
To be an effective leader requires lots of efforts, wonderful characteristics, extremely clever minds, flawless sets of tactics and skills, and so on. As for Martin and Sam, one put an end to discrimination and dedicated to the success of civil rights of a generation, one fulfilled the American dream and paved the way for a new breed of “category killer” retailers; they demonstrated the model of great leaders and taught us priceless leadership lessons. They deserve to be honored and respected by mankind of all time.