Monday, February 06, 2006

Shakespeare’s Lessons in Leadership and Management

One of my articles was picked up and run by Spartanburg Technical College.

I was given a great book for Christmas by my daughter, Laura, called Power Plays, Shakespeare’s Lessons in Leadership and Management by John O’Whitney and Tina Packer. I think it is Laura’s attempt to add some culture and literature to my life since she is taking her masters in English Literature. The book is about John O’Whitney’s personal experiences in business and Shakespeare and what he has to say on life.

I have had many influencers in my life who are big Shakespeare advocates. One is Dr. Joe Martin who is a professor at the University of Toronto Business School who strongly recommends that any of his students attend a Shakespeare play to learn how to communicate. The second person is my Uncle Bruce Kellner who was a university professor and is a prolific author who is passionate about Shakespeare and culture. And of course my mom who took me to plays when I was young.

I enjoy live theatre but to be truthful tend to find Shakespeare daunting and sometimes boring. I tend to prefer Shaw and the lighter comedies.

Back to “Power Plays”, John O. Whitney appears to share many of my values (he is a very frugal person, has work eithic, is down to earth etc). Part of the book talks about the need for trusted lieutenants. Often in business people think that it is one person who builds the business but this is not the case. The only way that business people are successful is by surrounding themselves with many good people.

The book talks about creating trust and how trust is needed for leadership. This is one of the goals that any leader needs to work towards; however, it tends to be very delicate.

The book has an entire chapter on the uses and abuses of perks, pay, and privileges. Clearly John would like my office with my used furniture purchased at an office auction, etc.

The book talks about the parallels between acting and being a good CEO. There are three characteristics that are in common that are needed: physical stamina, energy, and mental stamina. It seems that much of my life centers around trying to increase all of these three characteristics.

It also talks about being genuine and not copying from someone else. I have always found that if someone else tries to prepare a speech for me, it never comes off very well. I have often found if I try to be exactly like someone else, it just doesn’t work. My best solution is to try to filter and take the best parts from different people.

John has been involved in a number of turnarounds and in turnarounds there tends to be hundreds of problems (SYNNEX is not a turnaround; however, there always seems to be hundreds of problems). What he looks for in these is to find a keystone. The one problem with solutions that will resolve the others. Solving that one problem will give the company the overall focus that it needs to get healthy again.


At 7:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laura sent me quote, too- 'There is no statement so absurd that a philosopher will not make it' (-Cicero)... what do you make of that one?



At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I quite like this post. I'm excited that you read the book. And I think that acting is a crucial part of everyday life, even if it simply learning to act like yourself. Cameron (who wrote Acting Skills for Life) would agree.
I'm glad that you and Joe like Shakespeare. As the bard himself said (or was it just his collaborators?) "All the world's a stage."



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