The Business Case For Shakespeare

Don't know how to handle office drama? The Bard has a few ideas for how to be—or not to be.

Friends, Romans, and angel investors, lend me your ears: the tech-focused questions you're wrestling with today were untangled by a Bard long ago.

So says Nigel Roberts at INSEAD. Though he leaves out the wisdom of jackassery, his reasons for Shakespeare belongs in C-suite stand strong:

Henry V is a case study in leadership and how to create loyalty. The Tempest a template on how to manage change without destroying the very thing you are trying to create. Julius Caesar an object lesson in how not to build a team.

Peering into those old stories, modern leaders can gain a perspective not so easily accessed in a tweet. As well, by immersing yourself in the narratives that drive the drama, you can learn how to communicate at a level deeper than corporatespeak: the story. Storytelling, as we (and Pixar) know, is the ultimate tool for building a brand.

As well, when we talk about how Shakespeare is timeless, we're really talking about how these characters—jackasses included—renew themselves every generation: Think on the way a craggy, bearded gent means wisdom, whether he's slinging spells or teaching classes.

"By exploring those archetypes in the plays of Shakespeare," Roberts says, "corporate leaders can enhance their rational and analytical core competencies."

To review, the toil and trouble of getting to know Shakespeare has a trilogy of takeaways:

  • By investigating characters' actions, you'll see current struggles in a timeless light
  • By investing yourself in the literature, you'll become more empathetic
  • By studying the craft of story, you'll be able express yourself in a way that people can relate to.
Executive Coaching from Prince Hal

Drake Baer covers leadership for Fast Company. You can follow him on Twitter.

[Image: Flickr user Cobalt123]

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