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Where do you stand in moments of challenge, crisis, and controversy?

Monday was Martin Luther King Day in the U.S. Martin Luther King Day is a Federal holiday to honor the life and contributions of Martin Luther King Jr. While searching though my folder to determine what I was going to write about this week I found this quote from Dr. King:

“On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expedience asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ And Vanity comes along and asks the question ‘Is it popular?’ But Conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ … The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Like all his messages I was struck by the timelessness of this quote. We are living, and you are leading, in a time of challenge, crisis, controversy, chaos, complexity, volatility and ambiguity.

Leaders, true leaders, courageous leaders, servant leaders are critical in these times. Sadly, they seem to be in short supply in a time when we desperately need them. In the Dare to be Great leadership workshop I share two guiding questions for leaders. The first is, “What’s Important Now?” The second is, “What’s The Right Thing to Do?” When we explore the second question I also share Dr. King’s quote, “The time is always right to do what is right.” and talk about the fact that doing what’s right is not always what’s expedient, easy, or popular, but it is always what’s right.

Leaders are not governed by cowardice, expedience, or vanity, bosses are. Bosses ask the questions, “Is it safe? Is it politic? Is it popular?” Leaders have the conscience to ask, “Is it right?” and the courage to do what is right. The psychologist Rollo May suggested that the opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity.

We need you to be a leader. We need you to step up and lead. We need you to do what is right.

In these stormy, turbulent, chaotic times we need you to be a Lighthouse Leader, not a weathervane boss in a leadership position.

We need leaders at every level of every organization. Grow where you are planted. Lead where you are at.

Abraham Maslow issued the following challenge to all of us, “What one can be, you must be.” The leader you can be, you must be. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to the people you have the privilege to lead. You owe it to those you serve.

Remember that leadership is a choice and a journey, and it starts with you. Choose well, keep learning, and enjoy the journey.

Brian Willis

Register yourself, and your team for the Dare to Be Great: Strategies for Creating a Culture of Leading online workshop to get everyone on the same page regarding leadership and culture. If you are interested in hosting a live Dare to Be Great workshop reach out to me at