By Oula Kassir, MPH

Michigan State University School of Public Health, East Lansing, MI

 Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who offered an inclusive vision for racial equality. He healed the division of society and built communities. He is vividly remembered as a great leader who believed that there are laws created by higher authority and others created by man and justice will not be served till both laws are even.

 MLK made me realize that leadership could be interpreted and approached differently. I came to understand that leadership involves “inside out” awareness while individuals often think from the “outside in” aspect. In other words, individuals tend to know “what” they are doing but very few know or understand the“why” in relation to the purpose. Leaders, however, begin by understanding “why” and move toward what they need to do to fulfill their purpose. The civil right movement helped MLK bring his cause of life.

800px-Martin_Luther_King_Jr_NYWTSThose who begin by explaining “why” and the ones that show the possibilities of turning visions into accomplishments by changing the way they look at the world and their place in it are the ones who inspire others. Those individuals have recognizable qualities of character and mind of a great leader that is not necessarily earned by a degree or associated with any sources. In fact, they are passion-driven, confident and dedicated. Also, they have values based on honesty, empathy and humbleness. Leaders need to develop other leaders and understand that leadership is an ongoing process that will never stop (Goldsmith & Goldsmith, n.d.). Great leaders understand the difference between managing and coaching others. They understand that they’re a part of a whole and they need to work with others toward a common goal. These qualities distinguish leaders from those who lead and thus it is important to understand the difference. Not all leaders use their powers and position to have a positive influence on the society.

The most rare commodity is leadership without ego. Empathy is critical for leader development to be able to recognize the concerns people have. Growing up in a country where adequate health care is very limited helped me understand how individuals in the same position feel. This is a very significant skill for public health professionals considering that it allows them to better access community needs.

Various goals could be achieved by the ability of working in diverse groups. Coming from a different culture aids me in becoming more open-minded towards others with different backgrounds as well. This skill will help me when working abroad to develop better healthcare resources.

My passion and thirst for knowledge as well as self-improvement is endless. I believe leading others requires reflection and the ability to set goals, evaluate, practice, support, and challenge. I would like to improve and expand my knowledge base on certain areas that interest me in public health field including environmental health and administration. I speak two different languages and would like to learn more foreign languages since it will help me communicate with individuals from diverse countries. My future self would focus on building bonds and relationships with individuals as well as conventions and being able to be an inspiring victory for individuals around the world.


Goldsmith, M., & Goldsmith, K. (n.d.). Helping People Achieve Their Goals. Retrieved from http://www.marshallgoldsmithlibrary.com/cim/articles_display.php?aid=282

Novick, L. F., Shi, L., & Johnson, J. A. (2014). Novick & Morrow’s public health administration: Principles for population-based management. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.



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