John F. Kennedy on Leadership: The Lessons and Legacy of a President

By John A. Barnes | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Communication:
Present Your Ideas Effectively

“Words with me are instruments.”

—THEODORE ROOSEVELT

“He couldn't communicate.”

—HOUSE SPEAKER “TIP” O'NEILL,
ON WHY JIMMY CARTER FAILED AS PRESIDENT

Communication is at the heart of leadership. You must be able to communicate in all directions—to your subordinates, to your bosses, to your peers both inside and outside your organization, to your customers, and to the public at large. Someone who aspires to leadership and is unable or unwilling to cultivate the ability to communicate is in the wrong line of work.

There is a tendency among some of us to dismiss people who are strong communicators, especially on television or in the news media, as somehow superficial and not substantive. The particular people involved might indeed be superficial, but the general proposition is nonsense. We live in a world dominated by media as never before.


Kennedy's Ability to Communicate

The image of John F. Kennedy flickering on a television screen represents for many Americans their most enduring impression of him: smiling and

-62-

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