Shakespeare on Management Part 3

Shakespeare on Management Part 3

The importance of trust

It is vital that people believe what their senior manager is telling them. Trust is an essential part of management. If staff do not trust you they don’t believe you; and if they don’t believe you then they cannot be motivated by you, they cannot act on your goals.

Once trust begins to evaporate a leader loses relationships essential to the normal running of an organization. In Shakespeare’s play there is no time for Richard III to wear the crown he has worked and killed for that he is not happy. Immediately after he is crowned and there are plots against him. His method of gaining power simultaneously creates its own fear that the same method can be used to take it from him. You know that if you have lied and cheated your way to the top others can lie and cheat their way to the top, and there is nothing you can do or say about it. Immoral activity in gaining power brings its own anxiety, since you know what is possible for others to do to you.

The night before the last scene in the play, when the future Henry VII’s army is arrayed against him, Richard is revisted by the ghosts of all the people he has killed. Unsurprisingly, they curse him and hope that the battle the next day goes badly for him. This is not a good way to spend the night before a decisive battle.

When you break moral rules to get to the top of the organization, then those rules and that morality will come back to haunt you. You cannot affect your history without it affecting the way in which you wield the power obtained through immoral means. Hence clear ambition, combined with an extreme will to act under all circumstances can, against all the odds, succeed. Six people between you and the crown can all in various ways and at various times die or be killed. But this process means you are left with so little trust that nobody really knows what you are thinking and what you are going to do next. When you have threatened everybody, you are isolated.

Being emotionally secure and strong provides the basis for open and useful interpersonal interactions. People will not follow people who they think have no integrity. It is not simply a moral matter – that followers won’t like people who lack integrity – but a material one. When you follow people you follow their judgement. If this looks as if it can be moved by events then it is dangerous to give them any credibility since you may find yourself following people who do odd things.

The problem of the driven leader

This type of unbending natiure in managers we work with, appear to be brilliant at leadership, they win and win again;but when they talk about their staff, they demonstrate their separation and the way in which they despise them. Working with such managers is hard because they are so unreasonable about their expectations of their staff.

To many people this looks like great leadership, but we know how fragile it really is. Such leaders are not in charge of themselves, and because they are not in charge of themselves they cannot in the long term strategically create events. So they search for fight after fight to meet their own psychological needs. Organizations cannot survive for long when they are led in this way.


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