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

By John A. Barnes | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
Faults and
Failings:
How JFK Nearly Destroyed Himself

“In short, there's simply not
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than here
In Camelot”

—FROM CAMELOT, THE MUSICAL,
BY FREDERICK LOWE AND ALAN JAY LERNER

Leaders are accountable to many people; it's part of the burden of leadership. Your subordinates, your bosses, your peers, your suppliers, your customers, and the public at large must all have varying degrees of faith in you. This doesn't mean you have to be perfect—nobody is. And it doesn't mean that you aren't entitled to your private life—of course you are. But you're headed for a fall if you conceal secrets so shocking that if they came out, they could ruin you and your organization.

It is a myth that anyone referred to the Kennedy administration as Camelot during Kennedy's lifetime. (Kennedy, who attended prep school with lyricist Alan Jay Lerner, likely would have snorted with derision if anyone had done so.) The legend actually dates from a postassassination interview that Jacqueline Kennedy gave to journalist Theodore H. White that ran in Life magazine. She recalled that her husband loved the Lerner and Lowe

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