Heidrick & Struggles: Shakespeare's Mind For The Future

The leadership styles of the rulers who dominate some of William Shakespeare’s most successful plays range from the “divine right to rule” of King Richard II to “the autocratic leader” of King Henry IV and then “the people’s hero” of King Henry V, who learns from his mistakes and becomes a collaborative, inspiring, and innovative leader.

This publication asks you to visualize the challenges of leadership in today’s world through the lens of 400 years ago — a time of constant turmoil, when the authority of leaders was regularly challenged.

As we once more find ourselves in a time of disruptive change, we are seeing the archetypal “hero CEO” of yesteryear morphing into “the human CEO” of a more creative era. While chief executives are still expected to be inspiring and heroic leaders, their leadership teams, boards, employees, customers, and stakeholders also expect them to be more authentic, approachable, collaborative, and “human.” At the same time, they must be confident and authoritative when it comes time to make the call — a style of leadership we might call “collaborative command.” In this publication, Heidrick & Struggles look at what Shakespeare says about leadership and its relevance to the leadership challenges of today.

Act I reflects on the three leadership styles that Shakespeare develops in his plays and their relevance to today’s leaders, using insights from research conducted by Heidrick & Struggles.

Act II reveals the Shakespeare we don’t know, an innovator in business as well as art, putting in place structures that generated wealth for himself and his colleagues while mitigating operational risk and personal harm.

Act III presents John Bell, the founder of Bell Shakespeare, talking about his leadership and the relevance of leadership in the performing arts to the corporate world.

Read the full report here.

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