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John F. Kennedy On Leadership: The Lessons And Legacy Of A President
John A. Barnes

Retail Price: $16.00
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Format: Paperback, 240pp.
ISBN: 9780814474556
Publisher: AMACOM
Pub. Date: May 30, 2007

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

Whether in business, politics, or the community, today's leaders have more in common with their legendary predecessors than they may realize. Intensely scrutinized by their constituents, colleagues, the media, and the public, leaders make decisions that affect lives far beyond their immediate surroundings. Perhaps no figure in recent memory more fully personifies leadership than President John F. Kennedy. Leading the nation in a time of unprecedented turbulence, challenge, and opportunity, Kennedy led his administration (and the country) with a courage and determination that even his harshest critics respected.

John F. Kennedy on Leadership identifies eleven core principles that made Kennedy, both before and during his presidency, a unique and dominant force who would serve as the standard by which future leaders would measure themselves-and by which they would be judged. Current and aspiring leaders would do well to adopt these principles, which include:
  • Questioning the status quo: Progress is change, and no leader ever became great without breaking rules.
  • Turning liabilities into pluses, making the best of miscalculations and misjudgments, and staying educable: There is value in mistakes, and there is always more to learn.
  • Making decisions: Although you solicit and incorporate many viewpoints, know that the buck stops with you.
  • Presenting an idealized view of what the future can be: Some may feel that "vision" is a tired concept, but properly crafted and communicated, it is a powerful motivator.
  • Finding your own "Bobby": In building your team, surround yourself with people who not only are trustworthy and competent but who also make your job easier.
  • Being the coolest person in the room: In times of crisis, take the reins. Your people will be looking to you; give them confidence.

John F. Kennedy on Leadership doesn't shy away from the well-documented darker side of Kennedy's life: the seemingly nonstop parade of lovers and the chronic and multiple illnesses. Every leader faces personal challenges that affect the ability to lead. This book shows how legendary leadership can exist even in the face of substantial limitations.

Kennedy led his nation through some of its most extraordinary challenges, from the volatile civil rights movement to the nearly catastrophic Cuban missile crisis. The extraordinary skills he exhibited in bringing America and the world into a new era are yours to embrace, emulate, and employ as you take your people and your vision forward.


Following up on Ulysses Grant on Leadership, journalist Barnes offers 12 concept-based chapters that draw on the life and presidency of JFK. "Vision" centers on the "Ask Not..." inaugural address; "Resilience" touches on the West Virgina primary (where JFK found a way around "the Catholic issue" to score an upset victory); "Team Building" looks at the JFK-RFK relationship and at Kennedy's crack staff of advisors (as well as when he did and didn't listen to them). Barnes gets to the anecdotal material quickly enough in each chapter to keep his rather thin concepts from buckling, and he presents it clearly and without jingoism. And Barnes does not back away from "Miscalculations and Misjudgements" and "Faults and Failings." The result is suggestive, if not overly inspiring.
—Publishers Weekly, Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

John A. Barnes has been a writer, journalist, and television commentator for more than seventeen years. His columns have appeared in The Boston Herald, The Detroit News, and The New York Post. He is also the author of Ulysses S. Grant on Leadership. Mr. Barnes lives in New York City.

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