13 Leadership Traits and Qualities of John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, is widely considered to be one of the most influential and charismatic leaders in modern history.

From his famous inaugural address that inspired a generation to “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” to his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy’s autocratic leadership style and his leadership skills were put to the test on numerous occasions during his time in office.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at 13 leadership traits and qualities that helped Kennedy become one of America’s most beloved presidents.

He had vision

The status quo did not satisfy John F Kennedy. He was continually trying to get the nation to develop. He accomplished this often via his vision that established high standards and pushed others to embrace his future vision.

His pledge to land Americans on the moon's surface is a shining illustration of his vision.

Few scientists thought they could reach the moon in a few years at that juncture in the Space Race. Regardless, Kennedy set the target. He reframed ideas and inspired the nation to go beyond what it thought was possible.

"Things do not happen. Things are made to happen."
John F. Kennedy

He was a good listener

Every successful president must be a good listener. They have a huge team of advisers and aides that assist them in making choices. However, the president must ultimately bear accountability.

That doesn’t imply a president in the United States has to embrace autocratic rule, although numerous have. This collection of authoritarian presidents includes John F. Kennedy. He wanted as much knowledge as possible to make the best decisions possible.

However, when it came time to make a final choice, he insisted that everyone adopt his viewpoint. It wasn’t up for discussion. He kept control of the Executive Branch as president.

He was determined

Kennedy was extremely determined. He got what he wanted most of the time by using his humor, charm, and intellect, but he wasn’t beyond harassing others and making threats.

When Kennedy persuaded the American steel executives had broken a commitment not to increase prices, he revoked their Defense Department contracts, ordered the FBI to demand their corporate and personal records, and conducted news conferences criticizing their folly.

He was heavily chastised for his conduct, but he stuck to his guns, and the executives were compelled to back down on their price rises.

One of the things that most presidents have in common is that they are very competitive. This makes sense since anyone who wants to be president has always to work to get there.

John F. Kennedy was known for being very driven because he wanted to be president. John F. Kennedy always gave everything he did his all, whether it was a simple game or running for president of the United States.

"Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction."
John F. Kennedy

He had good communication skills

Kennedy wasn’t very good at speaking, especially when he spoke to Congress for the first time. However, he got better as time went on, and he was able to drop his regional accent and stop talking too fast and without pausing.

When he became president of the United States, he did all of these things. He became the best and most passionate speaker in history. His speech got the message across and had the effect he wanted.

For example, when he talked about the Vietnam War, he said, “No other challenge is more worthy of our effort and energy. Our security could be lost one country at a time.” Here, he was speaking out against the spread of communism in Asia.

He thought that if South Vietnam became a communist state, non-communist countries like Laos, Cambodia, Burma, and others would soon follow. He used this speech to convince Americans that America was ready to face problems no matter what, to help its allies and fight its enemies so that freedom and peace could spread worldwide. (Clark.D. 2005)

This speech moved many people because he knew how to play with words. One young man was so moved that he decided to join the U.S. Marines. When the speaker asked what young people were doing for their country, this man said that he felt challenged. He joined this department to show that he cared about his country.

He was intelligent

Kennedy was a very intelligent leader.

During World War II, Kennedy used a coconut shell to write an S.O.S. message when he and his PT-109 crew were stuck on a remote South Pacific island.

He kept the shell. During his presidency, he put the shell in a plastic and wood case and used it as a paperweight throughout his presidency.

"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other."
John F. Kennedy

He was organized

Kennedy was very organized. His desk in the Oval Office looks clean and well-kept in every picture.

The meeting table in the president’s cabinet room, on the other hand, was a different story. It was often discussed in memos, briefing sheets, and other papers, especially when important meetings were happening.

Even though Kennedy was a young man, he took a one- to two-hour nap every day after lunch. During that time, everyone in the White House was told to stay out of the president’s way unless it was an emergency.

He also liked to swim in the White House pool, now the press briefing room, and work out in the gym, which his doctors told him to do because of his bad back.

The president was a night owl who worked late and stayed up late with Jackie to host celebrities, writers, artists, and other important people.

"The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining."
John F. Kennedy

He was charismatic

People remember John F. Kennedy more for his charm. John F. Kennedy was smart and had a handsome face and a winning smile. This made him stand out from other people.

John F. Kennedy was the first president of a younger generation. He was able to win the presidency and win over the hearts of many Americans with his charisma.

People who worked with him every day talked about how strong he was and how he could light up a room with his smile.

He learned from his mistakes

In April 1961, JFK made one of the worst political decisions when he permitted 1,400 paramilitary men trained by the CIA to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Kennedy, who was new to his job, didn’t pay enough attention to the plan’s details.

He also gave too much power to some military and civilian aides and didn’t think through the effects of what he did. The operation was badly thought out and poorly carried out. Because of this, 114 Cuban exiles were killed on the beach, and 1,189 more were put in jail to wait for possible execution.

But being very intelligent, Kennedy learned from this mistake and became a better and better leader over time. In fact, learning from mistakes is a trait many great leaders share.

"Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly."
John F. Kennedy

He was a conqueror

Kennedy understood how important history was and worked hard to ensure he had a place in it.

This may have been in part because he was a fatalist. He made the most of every chance, took on every challenge, and lived life to the fullest.

He was an analyst

Kennedy was a history buff.

As president, he was fascinated by “The Guns of August,” a book by Barbara Tuchman that shows Political and military leaders failed miserably in their attempts to understand how and why World War I began and how to put an end to it. Kennedy made sure that each of his Army officers had a copy of the book.

He was willing to take risks

Great leaders are often willing to take enormous risks. Kennedy was no different.

During times of trouble, he often tried to run everything himself. As part of the Cuban Missile Crisis, he insisted on choosing the first ship that the US Navy would board as part of quarantine. But Kennedy deserves credit for making a good choice.

The Marucla was an American-built ship owned by Panama and registered in Lebanon. The Soviets had chartered it to carry supplies between the U.S.S.R. and Cuba. He told Nikita Khrushchev that the United States was serious about the quarantine, but it would not risk all-out war by stopping a ship owned by the Soviet Union.

"Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind."
John F. Kennedy

He had humor

Wit is often not given enough credit when it comes to personality traits. But John F. Kennedy’s wit helped him process and deal with news from around the world while also making wise decisions.

John F. Kennedy’s humor helped him get along with people inside and outside his government. People often think of John F. Kennedy as charismatic because of how funny he was.

He believed in his people

In some ways, you could say that John F. Kennedy was a democratic leader because no single person could run the Executive Branch of the government.

He had to rely on his staff to tell him what was going on worldwide. During his presidency, the country was going through a lot of change, so it was probably hard for him to tell which decisions worked and which ones didn’t.

Final thoughts

We could end this article by saying that John F. Kennedy would not be as well-known as he is today if he hadn’t been a good leader. As president of the USA, he used many different ways to lead his people.

He was decisive and sure of himself, responsible for everything he did. He spoke fluently about something that had a significant effect on Americans.

He was a good example to follow. In fact, many people began to act and dress like him because he was such a great leader.

About the Author
Hi there, I'm James, founder of Melbado. I have over 20 years of experience as a leader and entrepreneur. Recently, I turned to leadership coaching and writing to pass on my knowledge to the next generation. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me via our contact page.


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