Shakespeare's Lessons in Leadership: Hamlet

ccochran

Southern Gentleman
#31
Pataha,

Excellent deconstruction of the Hamlet story! You know your stuff. Here's a question for you: what leader from recent history (last 25-50 years) do you think exhibits attributes similar to Hamlet's? My own pick was Jimmy Carter. Any thoughts?

Craig
 
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P

Pataha

#33
The other post was on the fly and your work requires more thought.

I thank you for the complement. However… You set up the theme, outline, and framework from which to work. Without your thoughts and direction, I would not have viewed Hamlet beyond the tradition and from Horatio’s role.
Your approach was inspired. As with such articles that lead me to move out of myself, I review it against the framework of my own life and see what I can integrate into me.

I am still struggling with “A leader must stay focused”. I have in my mind, of great leaders. My pick for recent great leaders would be Mr. Churchill, Mr. Truman, and General MacArthur. I believe that they had to handle many distractions and still maintain the goals they had to achieve.
I would think that a great leader would handle the distractions without being pulled down by them.

The author Patrick McManus, in one of his short stories gives us an illustration of what it is to be bogged down with tasks that cloud us from our goals and we lose focus. In short it basically goes, before I can do this, I must do this. In the workplace, I see this.

I am still not sure about Jimmy Carter, elements in our own system, does prevent some traits of what is defined as a great leader. Which, I believe that we should be thankful, they exist.

You do you believe would be Richard III? I have always leaned toward Nixon.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#34
In my view Mr.(s) Churchill, Truman and MacAurthur showed remarkable focus, especially when considering they did have many distractions. Showing focus, IMHO, does not mean one should be singleminded, a Johnny-one-note kind of leader.

In an analogy, a good leader must show enough flexibility to remain on course when currents swirl and buffet the boat--this will require slight steering changes but the object is to reach the same destination and not crash into rocks or the banks.
 
P

Pataha

#35
Fair enough Jennifer, so help me with the connection to the Hamlet and leadership article. Would this mean that you agree with a leader staying focused in spite of distractions and that Hamlet neglected doing this?
How would one apply this to their own life or managment style?
 

ccochran

Southern Gentleman
#36
Pataha,

I should qualify my comment about Mr. Carter. I too had the opportunity to meet him while I was living in Washington DC around 1977 or so. My famiy was standing in this enormous line waiting to get inside the King Tut exhibit at the National Gallery, when suddenly these guys with dark suits parted the crowd right where we were standing. Jimmy and Rosalynn came walking up to us and spent the next few minutes shooting the bull about King Tut and life in general. A pretty amazing thing. And of course he has done incredible things since he left the presidency, many of them clearly leadership related. Carter's precidency seemed a little like a Hamlet experience in some respects, though.

I like your ideas of Churchill, Truman, and MacArthur. Churchill and Truman are favorites of mine. Lyndon Johnson is a favorite of mine, too, but I'm reluctant to admint it. I better not say who I relate to Richard III. Don't want to start any heated political discussions. Nixon is a great candidate, though. Lots and lots of candidates these days.

Jennifer-- You're right. Focus does not make a great leader by itself. Focus must certainly be combined with some flexibility. The strength of focus is like a brittle stick that will shatter into pieces unless it is counterbalanced with flexibility. I think there are some contemperary leaders that illustrate this very clearly.

More matter, less art...
Craig
 
P

Pataha

#37
LBJ has some good managment traits of keeping a vision that may or may not have been his own i.e. NASA. For some reason, in the U.S. "The Means justifies the Ends" is held as a negative all the time. LBJ had this approach in regards to his (in)famous breakfast meetings with people from the Hill. If you are from the the West Texas Hill country, LBJ did quite a bit.

Now a question, are addressing leadership, management, or treating them as an hybrid?

Plus, with your comments to Jennifer's comments, how does that fit with your third point in the Hamlet leadership article?
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#38
patahaconsulting said:
Fair enough Jennifer, so help me with the connection to the Hamlet and leadership article. Would this mean that you agree with a leader staying focused in spite of distractions and that Hamlet neglected doing this?
How would one apply this to their own life or managment style?
I gave myself some time to consider what to say before blurting it out.

Good leadership requires understanding truthfully where one starts, recognizing shortcomings and honestly appreciating what is needed to achieve the destination. A good leader allocates needed resources, both material and performance, to ensure success is enabled. A good leader needs to know how (s)he will define arrival. This seems silly to some but the lack of measurement leaves one with only a vague (and perhaps short lived) feel-good result unless something has irrefutably, physically changed. And when that physical change occurs, the leader should have a means to measure satisfaction with the change because expectations can differ from achievement.

A leader needs to make a plan from this data so as to have any kind of focus. A Gantt chart should help to keep an idea of where they should be in the plan, and key players can be noted in there if so desired. Lists of needed resources must be developed, meaning comparing what the leader has now against what is to be attained--and what will be needed to get there. Even if they delegate making the plan, leaders should keep the plan handy. Hamlet didn't have a plan.

Even in small endeavors there are bound to be some distractions--especially when there are other people involved! A leader must learn to at once deal with what comes up but not stray far from course. If the plan needs to be altered, such as an unexpected training need or a key player is unavailable, then change the plan. Hamlet can't alter a plan he doesn't have.

Sometimes leaders shrink from sharing authority, responsibility and try to do too much themselves. Some distractions might not be so bothersome if there were proper utilization of help sources. These incllude skilled and ready people. Hamlet didn't use his ready people to help--he didn't optimize use of his personnel resources.

Without a coherent plan, all alone among the details and feeling the stress of distracting occurrences, a leader can be overly tempted to overreact to inputs. Hamlet overreacted when he stabbed the curtain and killed Polonius.

Not having a coherent plan, not knowing just what is needed and not having needed expert and ready help, a leader is tempted to go berry-picking from time to time, let schedules slip and transgress into distracting situtations that require effort that saps effort that should have been used to achieve the endeavor. Hamlet, in failing to say "No," allowed himself to tarry to England and had to deal with a bunch of matters that turned serious.

Hamlet failed to take responsibility for his failing to make and adhere to a plan, use resources, and say a well-timed "No."

Did I say too much?
 
P

Pataha

#40
Jennifer,

You handled the issue of focus very nicely. Your Description of leadership and the methods caused another question to arise. I will shelf it until Mr. Cochran’s leadership piece. It sort of hangs in the background.

I still disagree as to Hamlet’s human assets. Partly, because of the social standing of the identified assets. Coupled with the Old Hamlet’s Ghost insisting that they swear not to tell. However, whether or Hamlet uses them does not detract from the theme.

The following quote for me reinforces your comment about Hamlet’s lack of taking responsibility.

Being thus be-netted round with villanies,--
Ere I could make a prologue to my brains,
They had begun the play--I sat me down,
Devised a new commission, wrote it fair:
I once did hold it, as our statists do,
A baseness to write fair and labour'd much
How to forget that learning, but, sir, now
It did me yeoman's service: wilt thou know
The effect of what I wrote?
 
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