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Shakespeare in Charge: The Bard's Guide to Leading and Succeeding on the Business Stage

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Kenneth Adelman

Both of these books present palatable lessons on leadership, change, risk management, crisis management, power, and emotion, though Corrigan's book has a unique chapter, "Listening to Fools and Knaves." Corrigan's approach is more closely tied to Shakespeare's … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Kenneth Adelman
Publisher: Miramax Books
1 review about Shakespeare in Charge: The Bard's Guide...


  • Mar 8, 2002
I approached the reading of this book with great anticipation and was disappointed. Here are three of the reasons. First, it is ludicrous for Augustine and Adelman to try to correlate the highly structured system of hierarchies within the Elizabethan Chain of Being with the 21st century business world. Granted, much of value can be learned, for example, from the leadership and management of England by Elizabeth I as indeed Axelrod in Elizabeth I CEO as well as Higgins and Gilberd in Leadership Secrets of Elizabeth I have already demonstrated. Nonetheless, Shakespeare's major characters share a world view which is wholly different from that shared by the most admired contemporary CEOs (e.g. Gerstner, Grove, Kelleher, Walton, and Welch). Second, the tone and diction of Augustine and Adelman's narrative trivialize many of Shakespeare's most profound insights into human nature. They discuss literary characters based on historical figures as if they actually are historical figures and they discuss plot developments as if they are actual historical events. Third, and most disappointing to me, Augustine and Adelman add nothing original (much less compelling) to our understanding of either business leadership or business success. Consider the nine "Lessons" they only briefly discuss in the Epilogue:

1. Recognize and manage the assets we already have.

2. Assume responsibility.

3. Consider credibility the most valuable corporate and personal equity, yet most vulnerable to rapid depreciation.

4. Use mergers to compound strengths. Yet realize that, to pay dividends, the bonds between the partners must be both strong and flexible.

5. Consider personnel selection to be as critical in choosing friends in life as it is in finding bosses, colleagues, and subordinates in business.

6. Appreciate how human frailties and failings should inspire tolerance and a desire to help associates realize their full potential.

7. Brace for a crisis and recover as quickly as possible.

8. Practice fiscal responsibility.

9. Prize reputation as the core competency in the accounting of corporate and personal life.

Granted, I have quoted these Lessons out of context but the fact is, none really has much of a context; moreover, they are the key points which Augustine and Adelman (not I) emphasize. I urge those interested in Elizabeth I to read the two books about her mentioned earlier. Also, to read several of Shakespeare's greatest plays (let's say, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth) and then, perhaps, an authoritative commentary such as McElroy's Shakespeare's Mature Tragedies. Having done so, any reasonably intelligent person should be able to recognize the nature and extent of relevant correlations between the Age of Elizabeth (exemplified by but by no means limited to the works of Shakespeare) and our own. My view is that we do not read the works of authors such as Shakespeare to gain a better understanding of business leadership; rather, to gain a better understanding of human nature and, thereby, of ourselves. One man's opinion.

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