Today marked the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis for JFK – both an extension of one of his biggest failures and ultimately one of his biggest foreign policy triumphs. His earlier Bay of Pigs fiasco was the product of listening to military advisors who assured him of easy success. And he wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice when similarly (if not more) eager hawks encouraged him to directly invade Cuba to rid it of the Russian missiles.
A hero in the pantheon of US Presidents despite a tragically truncated administration, Kennedy was one of those rare executives who could both Lead and Manage with distinction. His famous ‘man on the moon’ speech/vision/challenge is the archetype (if not now cliché) for big, bold Leadership visions and aspiration.
But his ultimate triumph in Cuba is extraordinary not for what happened (the upside of getting Cuba rid of the missiles), but what didn’t (the downside of nuclear conflagration…in fact not a single shot was fired).