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Transformational Leadership and John F. Kennedy

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: History
Wordcount: 3225 words Published: 20th Jul 2021

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Transformational leadership qualities are not only inherited in person but external environments also involved to build up a leader. Transformational leadership has become so prominent in today’s society, especially in the Western world, where athletics, military, and politics all thrive on it. Of course, transformational leadership would not exist if there were no followers, but it is a skill that is extremely effective and needed. Leaders are effective decision makers, strong motivators, and masters of communication. You can instantly tell who is a great leader by observing the way everyone else’s effort is as a whole. A great leader is someone who is both task and relationship oriented. While they establish interpersonal relationships with their teammates, they also make sure that everyone is prepared for the task at hand.

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Transformational Leadership is the behaviour of an individual when he is directing the activities of group towards a share goal. Such leaders act as a communication bridge by inspiring and motivating followers towards particular goals in an organised way. Strong communication skill is a major quality of a leader. The progress of a team depends on the encouragement and affectivity of its leader. Transformational leaders build the teams and motivate them. It can be hard, but it can make a difference. Transformational Leadership emerges from situations in which there is no formal leadership or in the context of formally designated roles (Ronald K. Smith, 2004).

Transformational leaders serve as role models and focus on the well being of their followers by helping them develop to their fullest potential. Transformational leadership is associated with the following four factors: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. Followers who are able to solve issues without the help of a leader are more likely to have higher self-confidence; therefore, leading to higher motivation and production. Transformational leaders utilize individualized consideration to establish self-esteem and pride in followers by treating them as individuals. Followers with high self-confidence may be more likely to initiate and finish projects that are outside their realm of duties, because they are less afraid of negative repercussions if they fail. Leaders who take the time to meet and know their followers provide an inviting work environment. Followers who feel that their leaders care about them may be more motivated to produce superior work to please their leaders.

Transformational leaders provide supportive work environments for their followers. These leaders are tolerant to followers’ mistakes and more willing to teach and model proper behaviour. Transformational leaders involve their followers in problem-solving and innovative sessions. Inviting and encouraging followers to participate in goal setting is characteristic of these types of leaders. These leaders engage themselves with followers and serve as mentors and role models. Transformational leaders, much like charismatic and servant leaders, establish a rapport with their followers. They show an interest for others. Both transformational and servant leaders value others, develop followers, build communities, display authenticity, and share leadership.

John F. Kennedy and his Leadership Style:

As a president, John F. Kennedy was known for his capability to handle the problems that were out of reach of the other people. By a layman it is usually wondered how skilled can a person be that he can take care of problems which are observed to be much more complicated and bigger than which can be handled by a mortal man. John F. Kennedy proved this by his dedication and determination towards his job as a president. All this proved to be a success not only by his efforts but also with the help of the people as they got a surrounding where they can be at their best. The success of the leader does not only depend on his ability but also on his relationships that he has to establish.

Kennedy always was against creating layers in the surroundings which would promote open communication among the individuals which would end up in rivals. In order to avoid the dictatorial nature of a leader, a lot of attention to the details is required so that the respective task is covered by the appropriate person with proper co-ordination and guidance (John A. Barnes, 2007).

His personality was embedded with a combination of affection and hard mind. He thoroughly enjoyed the variety of diverse personalities and talents that surrounded him throughout the era of his presidency. He always respected an individual for what he was. He had certain reliability in his acceptance of men to work with him. To make things go right, he had a perfect assessment of the people who would be useful and how can their talents be fruitful.

Type of Leader:

Out of all the leadership styles, Kennedy’s leadership style proved to be the most effective and influenced one. He followed the authoritative and charismatic leadership style. Authoritative leaders are to be known as the experts in whatever they get into. They are able to provide you with a clear vision and a perfect path through which it can be achieved and be a success. In Kennedy’s leadership this quality can be seen very clearly because he had the capability to mobilize the people towards the vision and make use of what they were best in (Peter G. Northhouse, 2009).

John F. Kennedy Authoritative Leadership:

The authoritarian leadership approach is used by leaders that desire or need to have complete power in decision-making. This method is often expressed by the leader informing his people purposely what to do and how to do it, and is most frequently necessary when time is of the essence. However, this approach should not be used too frequently, because it could direct to the observation of bossiness on the leader’s part, which could conduct to reduced people’s inspiration and reduced commitment. Effective leaders are likely to use power in a subtle, careful fashion that minimizes status differentials and avoids threats to the target person’s self esteem. Kennedy’s approach generates an optimistic and cheerful man to work with (Erwin C. Hargrove, 2008). John F. Kennedy also played a role in situational leadership where he had to loosen his management approach to every circumstance. He considered being successful with the authoritative leadership style when he was the “inhabitant specialist.” (Lewis J. Paper, 1975).

In his era some of the people supporting him found such alteration a bit scratchy and disturbing to the place of work or to them individually and some had found it bit difficult to relate John F. Kennedy ideas of the upcoming so called future.

By his authoritative leadership style, he was able to engage different generations of this nation by communicating his philosophy of hope and change through traditional sources. In his own words, he is ‘audacious’ enough to propose that Americans can and should transform the nation into something that is better. His political and leadership messages have focused consistently on transformation.

John F. Kennedy Charismatic Leadership style:

What makes a charismatic leader different from others is his vision to encapsulate obedience of the followers. Using unconventional methods allows a charismatic leader to convince followers that they are not the “normal” leaders – they are new, different, and inspiring. Trust and creditability comes from the willingness of these people to sacrifice themselves for the betterment of followers and organizations. Charismatic leaders usually have high follower expectations and are able to encourage these expectations by using unconventional behaviours to establish credibility, sensitivity, and appeal.

Although charismatic leaders have a strong following, it is important to point out that they may have a ‘dark side’. Charismatic leaders may take advantage of the fact that they are so well liked and trusted and encourage followers to focus on and aim for atrocious goals. Charismatic leaders are more equipped to influence followers to participate in corrupt behaviour. Because followers trust and like their leaders they may be more willing to ignore and not question any odd behaviour.

In some era of John F. Kennedy life people have noticed a charismatic Leadership style. However, the charismatic magic can be equally a lucky thing and a nuisance on the general public. John F. Kennedy charismatic leadership style help him make himself capable of using his personal magic or charm to get the work done out of people. This comes out to an effective, challenging and powerful method to guide other people.

John F. Kennedy as a charismatic leader time and again fluent the hallucination by means of descriptions and tales in behaviour that each human being can be aware of his mental picture or image. The persons who support him usually saw him as individual that have power over and capability to create in individuals mind the prospect with transparency.

This also helped him become a role model for his workplace.

By his charismatic leadership style, Kennedy was able to engage the nation, to inspire and to motivate the people by communicating a clear vision of the future. Kennedy has utilized many media to begin his process of leadership. His inspirational motivation behaviour has been seen in the speeches he gave during the campaign which served to engage and energize both his supporters and those on the fence.

Examples from his Leadership:

John Kennedy proved to be a transformational leader from the very beginning after being elected. After his inaugural address there was no longer any question about Kennedy’s ideological orientation. He was still a pragmatist, but he stood on his political legacy as the heir to Roosevelt and Truman. He deluged the Congress with addresses, messages and exhortations.

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His authoritative leadership trait can be seen in this example. The New Frontier, as his program was styled, had some success, especially in its first year. Congress established the Peace Corps, raised the minimum wage, liberalized social security benefits, and passed bills on housing, depressed areas, manpower retraining, and temporary unemployment compensation. The president was given unprecedented authority to negotiate large across-the-board traffic cuts.

As a president, John F. Kennedy did succeed in mobilizing impressive public pressure for his legislative program. Personally he was enormously popular. But the country was generally prosperous, and it was difficult to interest large numbers of voters in the need for change.

Some of the Kennedy’s admirers held that he should be more vigorous in seeking public support and less wary of altercation with the legislative branch. But his own reading of U.S. history was that presidents had rarely succeeded in appealing to the people over the heads of their elected representatives. He was a man of ideas and man of action, but through war, sickness, and politics he had also acquired the tempering qualities of patience and prudence. This proved the charisma in his personality as a leader.

He demonstrated the authoritative and charismatic characteristic in two of his most cherished legislative proposals languished for many months and were not passed until after his death. One was a measure to spur economic growth through massive cuts in individual and corporate income tax rates. The plan accepted the inevitability of budget deficits for several years in the expectation that an enlarged economy would increase federal revenues later.

The second major proposal that Kennedy left behind was the most sweeping civil rights bill of the century. In this field the president was a late starter. Despite campaign promised and pledges in the 1960 Democratic platform, upon assuming office he felt that he could not endanger immediately into battle with Southern members of Congress. He and his brother Attorney General Robert Kennedy accomplished much through administrative action, recourse to the courts, and the firm use of federal power when Southern officials sought to frustrate court orders. But the president and his brother deferred legislative action until what proved to be Kennedy’s last month of administration. In 1963 a great wave of black demonstration swept over the country, the North as well as the South. Delay was no longer possible. Inviting Republican congressional leaders into full partnership, the administration worked out a comprehensive bill including curbs on discrimination in employment and in public accommodations and facilities, and the withholding of federal funds from programs in which the evidence was clear that discrimination was being practiced.

As a transformational leader, in the field of foreign policy, President Kennedy began with a disaster and ended with what might in subsequent years develop into a major breakthrough in post-World War II international relations.

The disaster was in ill-conceived and badly executed attempt in April 1961 to invade Communist Cuba, using Cuban exiles as troops with extensive US support the project had been conceived during the Eisenhower administration, but Kennedy had to accept, and did accept, responsibility for its dismal failure. Some observers blamed him for not providing U.S. air cover for the invaders, and some charged the Central Intelligence Agency with faulty intelligence and ineptitude. The disaster was a sobering experience for a young, confident president not yet three months in office.

Another example exhibiting his authoritative leadership was his vision that was regarding the United State’s space program. One of his speeches in 1962, speaking to the students in Rice University, he said:

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…” (Thomas E. Gort, 1962)

He continued to talk about a long term vision of sending a man to the moon. He talked about the metal alloys that were not invented at that time; these alloys were capable of standing huge amount of heat and stresses times more than have ever been experienced. His vision to send a person to moon and getting him back to land safely was his main theme behind his this speech at the university. He explained the entire idea by which this could be accomplished. Here he was exhibiting an authoritative nature that gathered together the resources of the entire nation to a particular goal.

As an authoritative leader, Kennedy made the relaxation of East-West tension his central purpose. A June 1961 meeting with Khrushchev, in Vienna, proved fruitless. But the soviets beset with internal problems and their ideological dispute with Communist China eventually became more receptive to western overtures. In June 1963, in a speech at American university in Washington, D.C., Kennedy called for a break in the “vicious and dangerous cycle” of the cold war. He announced yet another conference aimed at producing a nuclear test ban treaty, and he said that pending the outcome of the negotiations, the United States would refrain from atmospheric testing. At the meeting, held in Moscow, the United States, United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union finally agreed upon a limited nuclear test ban treaty. It was later adhered to buy scores of other powers (not including France and Communist China) and was easily ratified in the U.S. Senate. It was, perhaps, the most important accomplishment of the Kennedy’s administration. But treaties and acts of Congress did not fully measure the impact of John Kennedy’s brief tenure upon the national consciousness. The “New Frontier,” indeed, was often more celebrated for its “image” and its “style” then for its works.

A number of reasons proved his nature of authoritative and charismatic nature. The president seemed to be everywhere illuminating nearly every aspect of the national life, from culture to physical fitness, from moral in the Foreign Service to the beautification in Washington, D.C. Although he made some enemies, notably in business circles and among Southern segregationists, his popularity often transcended the usual political and ideological lines. Overseas he was admired by statesmen and ordinary citizen alike (Fred I. Greenstein, 1988).

He was considered a charismatic speaker and a great communicator. He spoke with passion but stated his ideas simply, allowing him to appear very bright but still appealing to the average American. Kennedy was also seen as compassionate when he created the Peace Corps to provide aid to needy countries by enabling Americans to volunteer to help the countries in need. He set high goals for America, believing that they would put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s as well as advance in other areas such as the fight against poverty and prejudice, and the fight for world peace. Kennedy was also the youngest elected president which helped many Americans identify with him after generations of old men running the government. Although he smoked cigars, he never smoked in public to avoid setting a bad example for children which helped win him more admiration. He also won admiration from the American public by taking full responsibility for his mistakes (such as the Bay of Pigs invasion,) rather than blaming it on his advisors or the previous administration. The fact that he handled the Cuban Missile Crisis without causing a nuclear war, as well as signing a treaty to end nuclear tests in the earth’s atmosphere to stop radioactive pollution helped save many potential lives all around the world that could have been lost had he gotten into a war with Russia.


Anyone that possesses any of the above qualities with an additional dose of courage could be a leader, which doesn’t mean that you have to be leading a group of people. You can be a leader just by living by example expressing to people the right things to do, because you will be surprised by how many people are watching. Being a leader is not an easy task because things don’t always go as we anticipate, so that’s where the courage comes in because it kind of motivates you to keep going when you want to give up due to obstacles.

In conclusion all that am saying is that for a leader to be utterly successful one of the most efficient quality that he needs to his character is Achievement Motivation which is strengthened by the Internal Locus of Control, Social Self Efficacy, Multicultural Competence, and an Effective Communication Style so as to accomplish their goals to the fulfillment of those that they are supposedly making a positive impact on their life.


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