Shakespeare's Tough Lessons on Leadership

Nancy Koehn: Shakespeare’s leadership power is about all the teaching that his characters do by conscious, explicit example or by the way not to do it.  Think about the scene in Henry V where the King is on his way to Agincourt, and everyone’s sick and they’re way outnumbered and one of his old drinking buddies when he was Prince Hal, Bardoff, is caught stealing from a church.  And so Henry has to make this very interesting decision about what he’s going to do with his friend.  Is he going to let him off, as Pistol, one of his other drinking buddies is begging him to, or is he going to set an example as a leader of what people who violate the code of behavior do?  And he hangs him.  He decides to hang him.  But there the teaching is in the actual action, right?  And by virtue of you can’t mess with the mission, folks, or you’ll have to be sacrificed.  So the costs of violation are high.  And so you think about what that must have cost Henry V and how great his leap has been from the young prince, the hooligan, to the Warrior King, and there Shakespeare teaching by action and example, including negative examples.

How does a leader decide whether to be lenient or to set an example? Nancy Koehn presents this question by drawing from a harrowing scene in Shakespeare's Henry V.

Live on Monday: Does the US need one billion people?

What would happen if you tripled the US population? Join Matthew Yglesias and Charles Duhigg at 1pm ET on Monday, September 28.

Ultracold gas exhibits bizarre quantum behavior

New experiments find weird quantum activity in supercold gas.

Credit: Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • Experiments on an ultracold gas show strange quantum behavior.
  • The observations point to applications in quantum computing.
  • The find may also advance chaos theory and explain the butterfly effect.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Learn innovation with 3-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn

    Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live.

    Big Think LIVE

    Having been exposed to mavericks in the French culinary world at a young age, three-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn made it her mission to cook in a way that is not only delicious and elegant, but also expressive, memorable, and true to her experience.

    Keep reading Show less

    3 cognitive biases perpetuating racism at work — and how to overcome them

    Researchers say that moral self-licensing occurs "because good deeds make people feel secure in their moral self-regard."

    Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash
    Personal Growth

    Books about race and anti-racism have dominated bestseller lists in the past few months, bringing to prominence authors including Ibram Kendi, Ijeoma Oluo, Reni Eddo-Lodge, and Robin DiAngelo.

    Keep reading Show less

    A new minimoon is headed towards Earth, and it’s not natural

    Astronomers spot an object heading into Earth orbit.

    Credit: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Paitoon Pornsuksomboon/Shutterstock/Big Think
    Surprising Science
  • Small objects such as asteroids get trapped for a time in Earth orbit, becoming "minimoons."
  • Minimoons are typically asteroids, but this one is something else.
  • The new minimoon may be part of an old rocket from the 1960s.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Only 35 percent of Americans know the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease

    Yet 80 percent of respondents want to reduce their risk of dementia.

    Photo: Lightspring / Shutterstock
    Mind & Brain
    • A new MDVIP/Ipsos survey found that only 35 percent of Americans know the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
    • Eighty percent of respondents said they want to reduce their risks.
    • An estimated 7.1 million Americans over the age of 65 will suffer from Alzheimer's by 2025.
    Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast