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Shakespeare on Management
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0749428457, Hardcover)As a manager, you may secretly long for the odd head to roll, for the plans of potential usurpers to be spectacularly foiled, for your role as fearsome leader to be acknowledged and lauded by all. Melodramatic fantasies aside, however, the more conventional leader in you may also believe that the job of managing is for the eight-to-six daily grind and that Shakespearean drama is better left for the occasional evening at the theater. This, as Paul Corrigan tells us, is sorely underestimating the potential influence of the great Bard.
In Shakespeare on Management, Corrigan presents a number of Shakespeare's plays as lessons on leadership. Obviously, company leaders at the start of the 21st century deal with vastly different issues from those faced by the monarchs and warriors of the late 1600s and earlier. Corrigan begins his book, however, by emphasizing that while today's rapid pace of change creates an unpredictable environment for managers, a company in transition cannot achieve lasting success unless led by someone with exceptional leadership skills. The plays he examines are about the politics of leadership, and the intricacies involved in an individual's pursuit and execution of power and authority. Characters rise to great heights on the strength of their ambitions, but fall from grace on their lack of true leadership ability. Most of Shakespeare's plays deal with failure, but provide useful insights for managers intent on avoiding it. While Richard II points out the pitfalls of believing one's power stems solely from a title or position, King Lear demonstrates the disastrous results of not recognizing one's changing responsibilities. Richard III and Macbeth both portray the destructive capacity of ambition that is unchecked by a leader's morals or relationships. On a positive note, Henry V, Shakespeare's most heroic character, inspires leaders to develop the potential of their followers, to understand their individual skills and limitations fully, and to reward innovation.
Though managers with a passion for literature will enjoy this book, they don't have to love Shakespeare to learn the lessons. Corrigan draws clear, useful parallels between the plays' characters and the types of leaders that exist today. He doesn't attempt to eliminate the ambiguities often found in Shakespeare's complex characters, but instead offers up their strengths and weaknesses as descriptive signposts for the modern leader. --S. Ketchum
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:50 -0400)
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