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

By John A. Barnes | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
Vision:
Let the Word Go Forth

“We need leaders of inspired idealism, leaders to whom are granted
great visions, who dream greatly and strive to make their dreams
come true; who can kindle the people with the fire from their own
burning souls.”

—THEODORE ROOSEVELT

“For I know what happens to a nation that sleeps too long. I saw
the British deceive themselves before World War II, as Winston
Churchill tried in vain to awaken them and while England slept,
Hitler armed; and if we sleep too long in the sixties, Mr. Khrushchev
will ‘bury’ us yet. That is why the next president … must be
commander in chief of the grand alliance for freedom.”

—JOHN F. KENNEDY, NOVEMBER 5, 1960

“Vision” is a word often used in leadership studies. Some people swear by it; others think it a waste of time. What is it, precisely, and how should it be employed?

Vision, quite simply, is a way of spelling out for your listeners “the big picture,” to help them understand the effort in which they are engaged and win their “buy in.” That some vision statements are poorly crafted or restate

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