John F Kennedy as a charismatic leader

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The Cuban Missile Crises, more than any other single factor, contributed to Kennedy's success as President and his charismatic leadership abilities. His decisive handling of the situation, which led to a back down of the Soviet Union, sent a strong message to the citizens of the United States and the world that he would stand firmly by his inaugural promise to not back down at any cost, which cemented his charismatic leadership (O'Brien, 2005). When Kennedy first learned that the Soviet Union was building missile silos in Cuba, he and his administration complained to the Soviet government about the development, and suggested that the arms race and such aggressive tactics did not serve the interest of either country or the rest of the world, for that mater (Spartacus). Eventually, this line of reasoning and the talks that ensued would lead to the test-ban treaty of 1963 between the United States and the Soviet Union (Parekh, 2005). In the meantime, however, Kennedy was firm in his assertion that attacks from Cuba would be considered Soviet in origin.

The crisis truly came to a head when Kennedy established a naval blockade, barring approaching Soviet shipped from harboring or delivering goods—which were suspected to be missiles—to Cuba (Spartacus). War between the two nuclear superpowers was very possible, and seemed inevitable to many of the anxious people around the world who were watching. The Soviets backed down, however, and Kennedy immediately began pursuing diplomatic tactics to maintain a safe balance n the world (O'Brien, 2005). In this way, he was able to avoid war and yet remain a very strong figure, which propelled his public image very high. It was his handling of this crisis that cemented his charismatic leadership in the eyes of the citizens of the United States.

These same citizens were the "people in distress" that social scientists have deemed it necessary for a charismatic leader to come to the aid of. Kennedy did this in part by assuaging some fears with the Cuban Missile Crisis (though the outcome could easily have been different), but there were other more direct ways in which he addressed the concerns of the people. In one of the most famous lines ever spoken in an inaugural address, Kennedy said to the American people, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" (WGBH, 1961). Many people at the end of the 1950s were floundering, with a sense of dissatisfaction at the way the world was going and no sense of direction. Kennedy helped this distress by providing that direction, and an outlet for the need to do something. Several prominent military men attribute their decision to serve to this injunction of President Kennedy's (Spartacus). In addition, Kennedy formed the Peace Corps and gave a general outline of his plans for it in this same inaugural speech, helping thousands of Americans and untold others find productivity and satisfaction.

Kennedy's response to the Cuban Missile Crisis and his aiding of a disillusioned and distressed populous with a call to service reflects his underlying characteristic, which is a genuine care for and understanding of people. This is the main contributing factor in charisma, and was the guiding principle behind his doctrine of deliverance. This doctrine included a firm and even unyielding stance when necessary, but never out of greed or lust for power, but rather out of a genuine desire to protect his country and the rest of the world. The fact that Kennedy was not willing to compromise on this reflects the strength of his character, which is also a necessary ingredient of charisma. His doctrine also understood the need for self-determination, both for individuals and for nations. His early invasion of Cuba was built on misguided advice that Castro was an unpopular dictator, otherwise it seems unlikely that Kennedy would have supported te invasion (O'Brien, 2005). Other than that, his general approach to leadership was to give everyone, the citizens of his country and of others, the rights and opportunities to pursue a life of liberty[continue]

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"John F Kennedy As A Charismatic Leader" (2009, January 22) Retrieved October 4, 2015, from

"John F Kennedy As A Charismatic Leader" 22 January 2009. Web.4 October. 2015. <>

"John F Kennedy As A Charismatic Leader", 22 January 2009, Accessed.4 October. 2015,

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