On this day named to honor him, there are many lessons to be gleaned from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s service and work, but there is one you must embrace that will make you a better business leader: empathy.

Famed author Harper Lee offers a great definition of empathy: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."

Dr. King had a strong degree of empathy for the people he was leading. As a result, he was an effective advocate and helped bring about significant changes in their lives.

As you lead your business, you must be the mouthpiece for your customers. If you want to make life better for them, you need to have intimate knowledge of their challenges; the conditions that led them to be in the situation they are in; and the dreams, desires, fears, and frustrations they experience as they work to improve their situation.