David Kennedy - The Warrior and the President
Introduction of speaker - Professor Kennedy has written 11 books on history, including
the Pulitzer Prize winning Freedom From Fear and the textbook American Pageant. He
has written about how Hoover failed to recognize the cataclysmic changes of the great
depression and failed to realize the resources that he had to deal with it, while FDR
realized the changes and dreamed of the resources and what he could do with them.
What is leadership? Can it be analyzed? Can it be learned? There are two premises:
1. Leaders must have followers.
2. Leadership is peculiarly problematic in a democracy.
DeToqueville stated that when conditions of men are almost equal, they are not
disposed to take one of them as a guide and follow him implicitly. Burns, in his book on
leadership stated that leadership is a relationship between consenting persons.
Churchill stated that citizens in a democracy want their leaders to have their ears to the
ground, but find it difficult to follow someone in that position.
Two stories about Dwight D. Eisenhower can be used to illustrate leadership. In 1941
he was 51 years old, a colonel and had never been in war. After Pearl Harbor he was
promoted and assigned to develop a plan for the Pacific. His opening sentence in the
plan was about the people of China and the Philippines watching the US. "They may
excuse failure, but they won't excuse abandonment." He used an emotional argument,
not a logistical, military one to advocate for American involvement in a Pacific war.
He moved on to become a general and in charge of all of the Allied forces which
included different forces (army, navy, air force) from different nations who were not used
to working together. He had consciously developed a leadership strategy and wrote it
• The problem of developing unity involves first of all the human equation.
• To develop cooperation you must be selfless, generous in attitude, patient,
tolerant, absolutely honest and develop confidence and respect.
• He developed mannerisms in public to reflect cheerfulness and certainty of
• One quality that can be developed in leadership is to get people working
together, not because you ordered it, but because they want to do it, because
they instinctively want your approval.
Montgomery said that Eisenhower's real strength was in his human qualities, he was
like a magnet, drawing human hearts to him.
As President, Eisenhower was confronted with the civil rights issue as President with
Brown vs the Board of Education and the integration of Little Rock HS. In most cases,
he kept silent about his opinion and didn't comment at all. Biographers feel Ike failed to
take leadership - he refused to spend his political assets on this moral issue. Why was
Ike so effective in war and not on this issue?
Bales and Slater in studies of the psychology of
leadership developed a theory that there
were two kinds of leadership functions:
• Task leadership - best ideas, move things along
Process leadership - held group together, often used humor, facilitator,
Eisenhower was most fearful
of losing the goodwill of others. He couldn't easily do something
where it might make others not like him. He stated, "the leader's job is to get others to go
along with him. To do this he needs their good will." Ike was a process leader, more
concerned with maintaining his good will. FDR combined both task and process leadership.
• Leadership is a relationship - more complicated than at first thought.
• Leadership doesn't attach to the
individuals, but in the group, organization or culture in
which it exists.
• Leadership can take on the hard task and
face the difficult issue, but still continue to work
as a group to deal with them.
Walter Lippman said that the final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the will to carry on.
Stanford-California State Library Institute on 21st Century Librarianship Summer 2000
Informal Notes by Susan Martimo Choi