In what areas of Presidential leadership did Kennedy most excel?
In my mind, Kennedy's most sterling example of Presidential leadership resided in his ability to inspire individuals to greatness. Kennedy was one of but a handful of Presidents that was able to capture the imagination of a people and enable them to truly believe that a "Pax Americana" was at hand. In domains such as the Space Race or the Peace Corps, or within the spirit of innovation that enabled individuals to "ask what you can do for your country," President Kennedy captured imagination and a sense of amazement. The mythological era of Kennedy's "Camelot" is only possible because of this sense of inspiration. It is also this sense of envisionment that enabled significant change in the realm of Civil Rights to actually happen. President's Kennedy leadership ushered in an era of optimism, hope, and change. These ideals were instrumental to lessen the inertia that impeded change in race relations. I think that this was the area in which President Kennedy excelled in his leadership. In his ability to inspire individuals to transform what is into what can or should be, President Kennedy set a standard that Presidents to this day attempt to emulate.
My grandmother had a box of old video tapes of CSpan Book TV shows. In one of them Ted Sorensen talks about why he worked for Kennedy.
Kennedy had been elected to Congress and Sorensen needed a job. He interviewed for work with Kennedy and at least one other politician, Henry Jackson.
Jackson said that he needed someone to meet with Jackson's constituents and promote Jackson's goal of becoming president of the United States.
Kennedy said he needed someone to meet with Kennedy's constituents and do whatever might be necessary to promote employment and economic growth.
Sorensen found Kennedy's Cincinattian view of public service refreshing.