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

By John A. Barnes | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Team Building:
Find Your “Bobby”

“[M]en of ability who can do things. Men of good judgment.”

—JOHN F. KENNEDY, DESCRIBING THE QUALITIES HE
LOOKED FOR IN SUBORDINATES

“This is the one part of the job I had hoped would be fun. But
these are the decisions that could make or break us all.”

—JOHN F. KENNEDY ON SELECTING PERSONNEL

The team you put together to surround and advise you says a lot about your leadership. So, too, does the way you go about building that team. You can't only choose friends and acquaintances, although having a few of them close to you will help get you through some rough times. You must spread a wide net so that all the people around you are not cut from the same cloth. You want a range of opinions, not just one point of view or one kind of background. You need to be sure you will receive honest advice from experts in their fields, not simply watered-down recommendations your people think you want to hear. And, finally, you want a team that is as loyal to you as you will be to it.

When Air Force One arrived at Andrews Air Force Base on the evening of that shocking day in November 1963, the presidential staff aboard the air-

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