The Shakespearean Leader

Lovers of the bard’s plays are often mesmerised by how the character develops as the play goes on. Consider this: If a character merely unfolds along with the plot, we already know all there is to know about them when they appear. They illuminate little because they cannot surprise us the audience. In Shakespeare, powerful character change comes about as a result of the antagonists moving toward – rather than away from – the anxieties that external challenges impose on their internal worlds. In a leadership context, Shakespearean plays have shown us that self-awareness is useful to a leader when it is revelatory. And it can only be revelatory when one is willing to concede that one knows himself or herself only partially, that is leadership is a ‘work-in-progress’. In this sense, leadership development is less about learning new skills than about discovering ourselves anew by giving something up, including cherished notions of the person who we think we are, in order to discover the better leader we could become.

SourceHavard Business Review



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