Cover image for Power plays : Shakespeare's lessons in leadership and management
Power plays : Shakespeare's lessons in leadership and management
Whitney, John O.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2000]

Physical Description:
316 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
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Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR3069.M27 W47 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PR3069.M27 W47 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PR3069.M27 W47 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Explains why the issues fueling the intricate plots of Shakespeare's plays are the same issues that business leaders must contend with today.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Whitney, an academic and former CEO, and Packer, founder and CEO of a classical theater company, explain the many lessons in leadership that Shakespeare teaches, noting that the ways of power appear as a constant from medieval England to corporate America. Although leaders may have different titles, the powers that they hold over the lives of people, the new ground they break, the good that they can do, and the harm that they can cause parallel every society throughout history. In part 1 we learn how Shakespeare teaches leaders to use power well, and part 2 deals with Shakespeare's explanation of what it takes for a leader to gain the support of followers. Part 3 focuses on values and how to reconcile what leaders believe in as moral agents with the demands of various stakeholders. With quotes from the Bard's familiar plays, the authors demonstrate how Shakespeare's lessons can be helpful to modern leaders at every stage of the business game. --Mary Whaley

Publisher's Weekly Review

Whitney, a former president of Pathmark Supermarkets, and Packer, a founder of a classical theater company, present a rather pedestrian analysis of the Bard's insights on leadership. Whitney, who admits he made tactical mistakes when he took over running the troubled grocery chain, believes that Shakespeare's plays offer important lessons for today's business arena-e.g., that one of the worst strategies is vying for power simply to have more power. "What does Macbeth accomplish once he wears the crown?": the assassination of his best friends. Obviously, that's not the smartest boardroom tactic, but the authors believe many power-hungry managers do the same thing by firing the employees who once supported them. Good executives surround themselves with loyal supporters: Henry V is able to rally his troops the day before the Battle of Agincourt, and Mark Antony garners support by delivering a moving funeral oration for Caesar. Citing other characters and plots, the authors offer managers a mix of useful if somewhat obvious advice. The chapter on acting like a leader, however, is particularly strong; it explains how managers' behaviorÄfrom their dress to the way they enter a roomÄcan affect their authority. Although the practical information is not always successfully interwoven with the theatrical references, this unusual look at workplace behavior should help less experienced managers brush up on their people skills. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Part I Power For Good and for Evil
1 Power Is a Freighted Idea Understand It Before You Use It
2 Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears a Crown Promoted? Transferred? New Hire? Tips from the Master
3 The Trusted Lieutenant A Delicate Balance
4 The Skipping King Uses and Abuses of Perks, Pay, and Privilege
5 Women and Power Shakespeare's Education and Transformation
Part II All the World's a Stage Business as Theater
6 All the World's a Stage Playing the Part
7 Lend Me Your Ears The Art of Persuasion
Part III The Search Within Integrating Values, Vision, Mission, and Strategy
8 Polonius's Paradox Choices and Consequences for Man Alone and Man in Society
9 The Choice and Master Deceivers of Their Age What's Fair in Love, War, and Business
10 Banish Not Your Jack Falstaff The Value of Mavericks in Our Midst
11 To Be or Not to Be: It's Up to You Hamlet's Fatal Flaws Epilogue: A Woman