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J.F. Kennedy’s People-Oriented Leadership Report

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Updated: Sep 6th, 2021

Definition of leadership

Leadership is a concept that has been defined by many scholars who have come up with different definitions, underlying the same concept. In general, leadership is the act of leading a group of individuals with an aim of attaining a common goal. Scholars, for example, Thomas, regards leadership as one of the experiences that many people fail to understand, because the way it is defined is not the way it is practiced by those in power.

Scholars suggest that intellectuals should come up with scientific standards of measuring good leadership for a clear definition to be realized. Leadership entails the act of transforming the followers unlike the issue of politics which aims at short-term rather than long-term goals (Allison and Zelikow, 2006, p.102).

Leadership traits

Leadership traits are the characteristics or features that make a person an effective leader. It also refers to the mechanisms and tactics that make someone a leader and not a follower. Leadership traits often vary from one person to another, depending on how one handles his followers and tasks, as well as one’s ability to interact with other people. For one to qualify as a leader, he has to be the person who has the ability to entrust one’s duties in regards to the political control, as well as to be to make effective decisions (Allison, 2009, p.16).

An introduction to J. F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy is one of the American leaders who had a vision for his country, as well as a superb decision-making style while he served as the President of America. He also possessed political integrity, legislative skills as well as communication skills that helped him steer to greater heights in the achievement of his goals and objectives in leadership. His vision enabled him to chart a course for the achievement of the country’s goals and objectives while his decision-making style helped him in focusing on the internal processes of the leadership style.

JFK was task oriented as well as the person who focused on productivity. As he delegated his duties he often assessed the competencies as well as the perspectives that would bring favorable inputs into the aspects of leadership as well as the nation as a whole (Allison and Zelikow, 2006, p.144).

During his ten month presidential term which was the shortest ever, he was able to manage various events that occurred during the Cold War. JFK is said to be a leader in every sense of this word because during his term he was determined to make an end to the nuclear war in America; that was the major concern for the President during that period. It showed that he had a vision to spur the country forward as well as compel a brighter future for his America.

This created a new era in the US during which various successful visionary initiatives were born. The vision was made clearer through “the Strategy for peace speech at the American university, in which JFK promised to end to the cold war along with signing the Test Ban Treaty”. This Treaty was meant to educate the American public at large on the urgency and need for the pursuit for long term goals in national security (Allison, 2004, p.1).

Decision making as a tool for effective leadership

His decision making style was effective in the fact that he was competent in decision making because he was the person who believed in himself. In the analysis of his decision making, Alexander George says that JFK’s collegial decision making model was efficient since he positioned each member of the group in a strategic position where each individual was able to contribute to the overall goal of the nation. (Dalgish & miller, 2010, p.176). He, therefore, made sure that each member contributed to the decision making process through the provision of information. He often made decisions using a bureaucratic manner, so that he would be able to defend his own rights as well as decide on the better innovations he came up with during the process of decision making.

Delegation in leadership

In his duty of delegating duties, JFK made sure that he selected intellectuals who were qualified and experienced in the various fields that they were in charge of. The president was able to control all their activities. He had preset standards that he required for all the people who filled leadership positions because he knew exactly what he wanted from each person he was working with. He was effective as he delegated the tasks that he was doing so that all the people could get hands-on experience with regards to the work that was required of them.

JFK was a leader to emulate because he was aware of the role of the President in the country and the role of his advisor; even though his advisors delayed in giving their pieces of advice, he always knew what measures he was supposed to take as the president of the US (Dalgish & miller, 2010, p.168).

J. F. Kennedy as a people-oriented leader

JFK was in most cases concerned with the welfare of the people as well as the long term vision of the country. As a result, it made him a revolutionary as well as a charismatic leader. He strived to focus on the future of the country by providing people with better ways of handling their problems. JFK was also self-driven in the fact that, he enjoyed being a presidential leader, and he was fully aware of his roles as the president. The kind of passion that JFK had, favored him in the accomplishments as well as in the achievement of the missions and visions that the nation had at that time. He used his power to influence the people to come up with better innovations that would urge the country to greater heights (Allison, 2004, p.1).

Intellectual stimulation of the people

JFK was an intellectual who utilized the knowledge and skills he had acquired by means of experience performing administrative tasks as a president. He was able to provide intellectual ideas to his followers who in turn got intellectually stimulated. It was made possible through the speeches that he often gave in public. He also relied on external advisors for some legal advice (Bass, 2006, p.86). This shows that he valued the various inputs and opinions of external actors. JFK’s administrators worked together so that they could synthesize their speeches in order to incorporate the views of all parties.

This also helped him in creating a balance in decision making processes as it was multi-dimensional. It in turn made it possible to solve the Cuban missile crisis. His innovative ideas were useful in calming down of the missile crisis. When a comparison is made between President J. F Kennedy and President George w. Bush, it must be underlined that JFK was more ambitious than G. W. Bush, which is attributed to the ambitious goals that G.W Bush had set, but they lacked the appropriate contextual intelligence (Anderson, 2001, p.10).

JF Kennedy’s ability to inspire and motivate people

John Kennedy was always a self-inspired person who often believed that he could manage things better than any other person. He was able to understand the roots of the problem in regards to the Great Depression in America and resolve the Cold War issue presenting himself as the hero. He was an individual who has sense of humor and charisma that is why he was able to motivate people that he interacted with as well as keep them inspired performing his work and duties (Benson, 2000, p.48).

JFK’s Quest for power

JFK ran for Congress in 1946; the fact that he joined the politics was unexpected for his college friends who were sure he would be a professor. JFK never enjoyed campaigning, but he was elected, and won a 1952 Massachusetts senate sit. In 1956 he published the book ‘Profiles in Courage’; it was a book about eight U.S. senators who had asserted political courage in the pursuit of their version of the public interest (Barnes, 2005, p.49).

JFK is one of the leaders who had the passion for taking their countries to greater heights. He always believed in himself and he knew that being a presidential leader required no prior experience, which gave him the vigor to work hard to attain his objectives for the country (Bescholss, 2001, p.56)

Instead of waiting for his tenure to arrive, JFK utilized his youthfulness as a strength in the campaign towards possessing power. He beseeched the young generation to “consciously display vigor and energy” (Hult, 2005, p.44). JFK was a man of forty-four years old when he was chosen for the post of the President of the US. John F. Kennedy occupied this post the least period of time in comparison to all presidents of the United States, in particular, two years and ten months, but his Administration is nonetheless, regarded as one of the most documented and remembered ever. Domestically, the struggle for civil rights dominated the agenda, but JFK ignored the issue throughout his Presidency tenure (Hult, 2005, p.44).

Schlesinger said JFK was one of the people who displayed his leadership qualities right from the beginning of his presidency. JFK was perceived as the person who was disciplined, not candid and ready to take challenges (Burns, 2008, p.68). He was ruling the US during some of the most difficult times in the history of the United States; the times when “Berlin and Cuba were the two epicenters of the Cold War, over which the Soviet Union and the US wrestled” (Cronin, 2004, p.2).

JFK presided over one of the great U.S. foreign policy fiascoes in the 20th century, the “Bay of Pigs invasion’ in 1961, and one of the greatest U.S. diplomatic successes, the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ of 25th October” (Cronin, 2004, p.2). “In the Bay of Pigs invasion, it is noted that American troops and air power were to assist exile Cubans to overthrow the Castro regime” (Cronin, 2004, p.2). However, the operation failed because of poor intelligence service as well as planning of the operation itself. The primary test of JFK as a decision maker came in the Cuban Missile Crisis, where the Soviet Union had placed offensive nuclear missiles that could reach the U.S. in less than 10 minutes, but he managed the situation successfully (Dallek & Golway, 2006, p.142)

Kennedy pledged to restore American military strength by means of increasing conventional forces and boost the missile program while improving the relations with the Communist world. He was constantly involved in working on “a nuclear arms control agreement pledged to defend Berlin, rebuild NATO, revitalize assistance to the Third World as well as create an Alliance for Progress with Latin America” (Preston, 2006, p.103). It can be underlined that there was no other politician who had the same power to lead, inspire or restrain the Congress and the country at large (Leaming, 2006, p.46).


JFK is considered to be the most conscious president in the 20th century. The 1960’s are associated with the development of the media, so JFK utilized imagery by means of press; he was always willing to look physically vigorous and sexual. He delivered the inaugural without his coat and hat when it was freezing outside to advance youthfulness and a break from traditions. Reflecting the three factors discussed in relation to leadership qualities, JFK appears to be the leader who can be remembered by many in the American history because he managed to cut across the three factors.

As discussed in the paper, he was the person who could easily make personal decisions and he had a vision for the country with proper strategies on how to accomplish the mission towards the intended vision. So, such abilities can be considered positive stories of JFK’s personal development as they hardly took into consideration his mistakes.


Allison, G 2009, ‘Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis’, The American Political Science Review, Vol. 63, No. 3, pp. 689-718.

Allison, G 2004, ‘The Politics of Policy Making in Defense and Foreign Affairs: Conceptual Models and Bureaucratic Politics’, Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 102, No. 3, pp. 524-525.

Allison, G and Zelikow, P 2006, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, Routledge, London.

Anderson, P 2001, ‘Decision Making by Objection and the Cuban Missile Crisis’, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 28 No.1 pp. 201-222.

Barnes, A 2005, John F. Kennedy on Leadership – The Lessons and Legacy of a President, Amacon Publishers.USA.

Bass, B 2006, Bass & Stogdill’s Handbook of Leadership – Theory, Research and Managerial Applications, The Free Press, New York.

Benson, T 2000, Speechwriting, Speechmaking, and the Press: The Kennedy Administration and the Bay of Pigs, Harvard College, USA.

Bescholss, M 2001, The Crisis Years – Kennedy and Khrushchev 1960 – 1963, Edward Burlingame Books, New York.

Burns, J 2008, Leadership, Harper & Row Publishers, London.

Cronin, T 2004, ‘Thinking and Learning about Leadership’, Presidential Studies Quarterly vol.14, No.1, pp. 22-24.

Dalgish, C & miller, P 2010, Leadership, Understanding its Global Impact, Tilde University Press, USA.

Dallek, R & Golway, T 2006, Let Every Nation Know – John F. Kennedy In His Own Words, The Free Press, New York.

Hult, K 2005,‘Strengthening Presidential Decision-Making Capacity’, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol.30, No.1 p234-298.

Leaming, B 2006, Jack Kennedy: The Education of a Statesman, W.W. Norton & Company. USA.

Preston, T 2006, ‘Individual Characteristics of Political Leaders and the Use of Analogy in Foreign Policy Decision Making’, Political Psychology , Vol 27, NO 2, PP. 249-272.

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