“Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty…” words spoken on June 6th in 1966 by Robert F. Kennedy, the brother of one of the most popular presidents in modern time, John F. Kennedy. It seems, Robert’s sentiment still holds true today, albeit for different reasons. Last year, U.S. News ranked the top twelve recent presidents from Donald Trump to Dwight Eisenhower. Occupying the three top slots in order was John F. Kennedy, Ronald Regan and Barack Obama.
My question: What can these top three past leaders of our country teach us about leadership? What did they each possess that made them so admired, so great?
As I see it, common to all of them were these four attributes—all leadership qualities that you can develop:
- Charisma (infectious enthusiasm)
- Perceived integrity
- Confident decisiveness
- Excellent communication skills.
John F. Kennedy
Anyone who has seen Kennedy speak is viscerally stirred by him. He could passionately, extemporaneously talk without a text for long stretches. While publicly dazzling behind closed doors, JFK was known to keep prodding his top advisors with probing questions, especially during volatile situations. If he felt their answers were unconvincing, he would just say no, and that would be the end of it.
Great leadership quote: “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past—let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
Regan’s popularity rested on his ability to unite, inspire, encourage and protect our country. He sought to connect people through the love of our nation. Inspire citizens to imagine and build a better, brighter future. Economic growth and world leadership were vital to him as was the safety of our shores.
Great leadership quote: “We are Americans!”
Obama, known for his conviction, perseverance, willingness to embrace change. He too had a ‘We-not-I’ attitude and could instill confidence and inspire with his contagious optimism.
Great leadership quote: “Where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.”
When I think about these great men, our most notable presidents in modern history, here is what strikes me. All three of these men came into the world the same way, naked. Just like me. Just like you. Each was a blank page in which they could write their life story. The same is true for me as it is for you.
If you aspire to be a leader, ask yourself which of the attributes above do you need to fortify?
- Get clear on what you passionately stand for.
- Be authentic, walk your talk.
- Stand by your decisions, yet still be open to addressing concerns.
- And, practice giving talks.
So now, what story will you write? The future is yours.
Originally Published on LightWorkers.
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