During one of the most tumultuous times in United States history, our president John F. Kennedy exhibited his decision making style and leadership qualities such as vision, delegation, focus, and ambition. His term was short lived, lasting only two years and ten months, but in that time he made a great impact on the United States and even the world. He was so important because he was a great leader in a time when the United States was in dire need of one. John F. Kennedy’s leadership qualities and decision making style reflected in the ways he responded to such events as The Cuban Missile Crisis and The Bay of Pigs Invasion.
John F. Kennedy was a strong president; he showed vision, decision making style, and delegation through his enactment of policies and the decisions he made while he was president. These three aspects of his character provide a framework for how he handled situations. “'Vision' mobilizes external support for the leader's overarching goals, and charts out a national direction. 'Decision making style' focuses on the 'internal', process-oriented aspects of leadership. The Delegation factor assesses what competence and perspectives that will bring input into the decision-making which will carry out the vision. Kennedy was concerned with the national security of the country and did everything he could to ensure the safety of its people. One of the decisions carried out by John F. Kennedy was the Bay of Pigs Invasion. The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an invasion of the Bay of Pigs in Cuba by special CIA trained Cuban exiles in an attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro. The decision was ultimately made by John F. Kennedy and it failed in just a couple of days. Many men had died and others were taken as prisoners of war. Kennedy would eventually have to negotiate for the release of well over 1,000 survivors. The invasion failed for a number of reasons.
Kennedy’s Presidential advisory committee made six false assumptions regarding the Bay of Pigs Invasion: no one will know that the United States was responsible for the invasion of Cuba, the Cuban air force does not pose a threat, the Cuban exiles have high morale and are willing to carry out the mission without any support, Castro’s army is weak, the invasion will spark a revolution among people in Cuba, and if the brigade doesn’t succeed then they can retreat to the Escambray Mountains. Kennedy admitted later that he had his doubts about the mission but kept them to himself. “"How could I have been so stupid? President John F. Kennedy asked that after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. He called it a "colossal mistake. " It left him feeling depressed, guilty, bitter, and in tears. One historian later called the Bay of Pigs, "one of those rare events in history -- a perfect failure. "” So why then, did Kennedy not voice his concerns? There was an underlying force that was apparent while Kennedy was discussing the invasion with his advisors, it is known as Groupthink. Irving L. Janis wrote a book explaining group think and failures that occurred in history as a result of it, The Bay of Pigs invasion being one of them.
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Janis describes Groupthink as “An excessive form of concurrence speaking among members of high prestige, tightly-knit policy making groups. It is excessive to the extent that the group members have come to value the group (and their being part of it) higher than anything else. This causes them to strive for a quick and painless unanimity on the issues that the group has to confront. To preserve the clubby atmosphere, group members suppress personal doubts, silence dissenters, and go along with the general consensus of the group. ” This theory of groupthink has affected many groups in history negatively.
Had groupthink not been present then the Bay of Pigs Invasion may not have even happened. All it would’ve taken was for the closed mouth president to speak up and voice his opinion about how it could go wrong. Mongar argues that it appeared as though “Kennedy experienced difficulty separating the administrative and political functions of the presidency, which would have been understandable in view of the fact that the Bay of Pigs was his first important political decision. ” As far as the Bay of Pigs is concerned, Kennedy started out as a simple decision maker or foreign policy leader.
He would since become a more complex decision maker, using carefulness and strategy to implement policies and decisions. Kennedy later revised his group decision-making process to encourage more dissent and debate. This change would later help to avert a potential nuclear disaster. Even though the Bay of Pigs Invasion turned out to be a complete failure, Kennedy demonstrated that he was ambitious. He was a new president and wanted to start off strong, so given the opportunity to attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro, he took it.
This showed in his actions following the invasion as well, for he had to negotiate for the lives of over a thousand survivors or POW’s that were captured during the failed invasion. The psych or individual attributes of any given leader are important in the decision making process. Some situations even encourage leaders to fuse their own attributes with the problems they’re dealing with. The Cuban Missile Crisis can be attributed as being one of those occasions. The Cold War Rivalry had been extremely high between America and the Soviet Union for years.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was an event that had the entire world standing in fear and attention. In October of 1962, aerial photos showed Soviet nuclear missile sites that were armed in Cuba. If the program were to continue, their nuclear warheads would be able to reach most of the United States. John F. Kennedy’s first inclination was to launch an air strike to take out the missiles; but upon further speculation and debate with his advisors he concluded that it would be a poor idea, thinking back to the debacle of the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
He instead decided to use soft power through negotiations and blockades. Soft power is the use of alternatives to military conflict such as treaties, negotiations, and policies. Kennedy was offended by what he believed were false assurances from Khrushchev that the Soviet Union was only introducing defensive weapons to Cuba as a means to defend the country from a potential attack from America. Kennedy said that the missiles would have to be removed because he did not want it to have a negative effect on the “global political balance. He took the action of making a quarantine or blockade around Cuba, which was considered an act of war but he did not think that the Soviet Union would launch an attack from a mere blockade. What this meant was that every ship entering or leaving Cuba was to be inspected by the U. S. Navy, mainly for offensive weapons of any kind. The failure that Kennedy faced from the Bay of Pigs Invasion was not something that he was willing to face a second time, especially since in this case it could mean the fate of the world.
He was diligent and focused in his plan with the Cuban Missile Crisis. “…Kennedy's succorance need and his obsession for competence: demonstrable expertise. In general, the implementation groups brought together in crisis situations were superior to any the White House has ever known. The indirect effects were largely cognitive, involving the manner in which his operational regulators structured and expectations of his advisers: Kennedy's pessimism about he probability of failure sharpened their sense of professional craftsmanship and dedication to sound judgment; his sense of caution produced a reluctance to act prematurely which usually gave them more time to work; his natural skepticism encouraged them to thoroughly question every conclusion and item of information encountered. ” This shows that through Kennedy’s personality traits, he was able to influence the people around him and thus making everything run smoothly. He had a sense of caution and thoroughness that enabled him and his advisors to handle the situation without any hiccups.
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