July 18, 2024

Shakespeare & Management

Shakespeare - Management and LeadershipManagement and Leadership


Lessons from Shakespeare


A business manager would do well to read or reread Shakespeare. Many of us were forced to read Shakespeare when we were young. To read Shakespeare today with the extra wisdom you now have as a mature and seasoned business manager will add value in multiple areas. To pick up these classics again with a new eye of examination will be a worthy and fruitful effort.


As managers, what can we learn?


We can learn:




Communication is complex and intricate. However, good communication skills are essential for management success.


The Importance of a Trusted Team


The need to develop trusted lieutenants is part of management. The only way that business people are successful is by surrounding themselves with many good people. We need to realize that trust is essential for success and trust in both directions is crucial.

Leadership requires trust and we can also learn that trust is a delicate item and needs to be cared for.


Perks, Pay and Stock Options

There is much in Shakespeare about the uses and abuses of perks, pay, and privileges. As managers we have to learn how to motivate people and sometimes we have to learn how to do this on a case-by-case basis. Not everyone is motivated the same way. Managers need to learn this and learn this well of maximum performance.


On Stage Performance


The need to perform “on stage” is an important part of management success. When we make presentations to employees, prospects and customers a proper performance will help us to reach our objectives. A good manager needs to act and perform well in front of an audience to be effective.


Story Telling

Shakespeare teaches us the value and power of stories. When we communicate we can help our communication by adding meaning and emphasis with our own stories. We need to have a collection of stories that we can pull out of our story-telling portfolio to aid the communication process.


Also, it is hard to forget our own stories. We know our own stories inside and out. They are ours we created them; we own them. The ability to recall and recite a story increases our value as communicators and fundamental to a manager’s success is communication.


Problem Identification and Implementing Solutions


In my career I was often sent into a troubled situation. I needed to turn something around I needed to resolve issues and resolve them quickly. This happens constantly in business. There always seem to be many problems and managers need to identify them and go beyond identification to define and implement the solutions. By reading Shakespeare we may gain insights into how to identify one problem with solutions that will resolve the other problems. Sometimes solving a single problem with a well developed solution will give the company the overall focus that it needs to enact a turnaround.

Shakespeare Management and Leadership – Sum Up

Are you an English Major and a Shakespeare devotee working in business? Or are you a business major who suffered through the required reading and complained? Did you wonder “Where would I use this?” No matter which you will benefit by reading Shakespeare.

To read (or reread) Shakespeare you may learn what you may have missed. It will broaden your awareness of the world. We must always be seeking resources and insights to situations and problems to be effective.

There are reasons why Shakespeare holds the foremost position in English literature. There are some of us (I am one) who didn’t fully grasp this when a young lad in school. I was not an English Major. I spent a great deal of time studying science and the application of science and did the required reading on Shakespeare and then went back to science. Science seemed so easy – Shakespeare seemed so hard. I failed to appreciate the treasures that were being offered to me.

So if to you Macbeth was just someone consumed by ambition, Hamlet one who let his chance go by or Lear a father who failed to recognize hypocrisy then it may be time for you to pick up a play or two written my a masterful playwright who can teach us about management and leadership. I recommend using your more mature and experienced eye to read and study Shakespeare. Look at Shakespeare though your business management lens. You will see more than you had seen. Be inspired to reread these plays with a new perspective.