The Unspoken Speech

On May 24, 2011, in Blog, Leadership, by Christine Glasco

My friend Bob Heckman, Founder of The Allen Group and author of Boardroom Selling: Proven Strategies for Selling to Decision Makers gave me a copy of:

The Unspoken Speech of John F. Kennedy at Dallas November 22, 1963

The copy was privately printed for Mr. Stanley Marcus (former Chairman of Neiman Marcus) in 1964 and bears the Seal of the President of the United States.

In 1963: Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was exhibited in the US for the first time; George Wallace became governor of Alabama; French President Charles de Gaulle vetoed the UK’s entry into the Common Market and later survived an assassination attempt; Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique re-launched the Women’s Movement; female suffrage was enacted in Iran; Alcatraz federal penitentiary closed; Fidel Castro visited the USSR; The Beatles released their first album; Coca-Cola debuted TaB, the first unsweetened beverage; President Kennedy issued a groundbreaking speech guaranteeing civil rights; Zip Codes were introduced; the US, UK and USSR signed a nuclear test ban treaty; Martin Luther King delivered the I Have a Dream speech and AT&T sold the first push button phone.

Whether Democrat or Republican, November 22, 1963 remains a day when our nation lost more than Camelot.

When my friend gave me The Unspoken Speech, I knew I was holding a precious piece of history.  The speech has many references to leadership throughout and perhaps provides us some small insight into President Kennedy’s personal standards for measuring leadership effectiveness and his recommendations for the judicious use of position power:

“Leadership and learning are indispensible to each other.  The link between leadership and learning is not only essential at the community level.  It is even more indispensible in world affairs.Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company.There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility.  Those voices are inevitable.”The speech was to end with: “We ask… that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility – that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint…

Questions for you to consider as you contemplate the words that will be forever unspoken:

  • Where are you on your learning and leadership journey?
  • When faced with ‘dissident voices’ or overwhelming problems – how do you show up to your stakeholders?
  • Do you hold the reins of leadership lightly, with wisdom and restraint?

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Christine M. Glasco consults to company executives, business owners and non-profit leaders on strategic leadership and career management/career transformation solutions. For a complimentary copy of Five Tips to Transform Your Executive Career to help you be more effective in your career, go to

Email: Phone: 1.940.367.0837

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2 Responses to The Unspoken Speech

  1. Ian Birch says:

    Different times, but a message about inevitable voices that the nation’s political leaders, wannabes and the public would do well to take to heart today.

    Leadership has never been easy, which is one reason that leaders are easily identifiable. We need both more leaders and braver, more outspoken supporters. Being an outspoken supporter of something worthwhile, no matter how unpopular, is also leadership.

    • Christine Glasco says:

      1963 was a different era. I believe the issues of leadership transcend time. I agree, we all have the responsibility to support, to become leaders and to be a positive voice when the ‘nay sayers’ try to dominate national conversations.

      Ian, thanks for your comments.

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