Lead Like John F. Kennedy

Michael Brenner

John_F._Kennedy,_White_House_photo_portrait,_looking_upJohn F. Kennedy remains one of the United States’ most popular presidents since his term in the 1960’s. His sudden and unexpected death rocked the nation, and even 50 years later his legacy continues to be revered in American history. Kennedy’s place as one of the few assassinated presidents of the United States ensures he will long be remembered, but his strong leadership style guarantees that he remains respected as one of our greatest leaders.

Hands-on leadership style

President Kennedy was known for being a hands-on leader. He was personally involved in promoting and campaigning for his administration’s agenda. His first-hand knowledge of the details of his administration showed others that Kennedy saw himself as part of the team and that he understood that he needed to work just as hard as anybody else within the White House. This helped him gain the respect of those working with him and for him.

Trusted decision-making process

Kennedy’s presidency began with a difficult crisis: the Bay of Pigs invasion. Through that crisis, Kennedy learned that he needed a clear process for making decisions. From that point forward, Kennedy designated a specific individual who was responsible for each aspect of every individual crisis or project. This ensured that he did not miss any crucial information. Furthermore, when it came to making decisions, Kennedy included all key stakeholders such as department heads and any other appointees with knowledge of the situation. He also invited others that he trusted to offer new and different perspectives on the problem. Perhaps most importantly, he knew that the people he called on felt safe sharing their viewpoints with the president.

Staying focused on the big picture

The Cold War and the fear of a nuclear conflict played a large role in Kennedy’s presidency. He kept his focus on the big picture of his presidency, which included many long-term goals in the national interest. This included pledging a pause in the Cold War and signing the Test Ban Treaty to limit testing and development of nuclear weapons. At the time, the American public was very fearful of the Soviet Union, and some decisions made during Kennedy’s presidency were not always popular. Kennedy made it a priority to educate the American public on why the government acted as it did. He knew it was his job to stay focused on American in the long term, and he also knew how important it is to ensure that the people you are leading understand why particular decisions were made.

Ability to inspire

Kennedy made it a point to surround himself with the smartest people on any given topic; he valued intelligence and trusted logic when it came to decision-making. Luckily, he also understood that logic is not always inspiring and beautiful to the general public. Kennedy nurtured his public speaking skills, and he was able to deliver speeches and addresses that moved Americans to think more positively and optimistically. When Kennedy spoke, Americans listened. He was able to brilliantly balance having good ideas and sharing them in a way that inspired others. The results of his leadership are still present today: The American space program (NASA) and the Peace Corps are two lasting examples of Kennedy’s leadership.

The skills that made Kennedy a great leader are not necessarily talents that a person is born with, but rather they are skills that great leaders nourish and develop. Gifted leaders like John F. Kennedy should be emulated and respected by those who follow in their footsteps. Kennedy has much to offer the leaders of today, whether they are in America’s boardrooms or in the White House.

Kennedy’s leadership style led to strong loyalty from those who worked with him. Learn how to boost employee engagement through recognition with the free Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition and Rewards. Fill out the form below to download. 

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About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of  The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider GroupHe has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and   a top  CMO influencer by Forbes.

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