Washington Post | Value Added: They teach business lessons, courtesy of the Bard

Washington Post | Value Added: They teach business lessons, courtesy of the Bard

By Thomas Heath

Ken Adelman is the former ambassador to the United Nations and former director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. His wife, Carol, commanded a staff of hundreds at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

They are one of those quintessential power couples, Washington wags with a network that cuts across the corporate, political and nonprofit world. They hobnob in Davos and Aspen and rub elbows with the likes of former secretary of state Colin Powell, author Walter Isaacson, and filmmaker Ken Burns.

So imagine my surprise -- and envy -- upon learning that these networkers moonlight in a profitable little business using Shakespeare to teach leadership, strategy and management to businesses and organizations.

For $28,000 a day!

Movers & Shakespeares had earned them as much as $600,000 in a good year, allowing the two 66-year-olds to share a passion for the dramatist/poet that a) keeps them active, b) is fun and c) allows them to travel.

They both have other lives. Carol is a senior researcher and head of the Center for Global Prosperity at the Hudson Institute, the conservative think tank. Ken is writing a book and producing a film on the 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev Reykjavik Summit, where he had a bird's eye view as an insider. Ken also does a smattering of consulting around Washington and heads the Arts and Ideas program at the Aspen Institute.

They spend seven months a year in Arlington, and the rest of the year in Aspen at "the house Shakespeare built."

Their client list is impressive; Vanguard Group, the Smithsonian Institution, Wharton School of Business, Overstock.com, Raytheon Missile Systems, Parsons Engineering, Aspen Institute, among others.

The $28,000 daily fee is for new clients. Veterans who sign up for a series of presentations see the fee drop to $25,000 and even down to $20,000, although not much below that.
"We make so much money because we are good," Ken said. "They don't pay us to teach Shakespeare. They pay us to teach leadership."

I asked for some examples, and a litany of Shakespeare's greatest hits poured forth.

There's Henry IV, the story about the king who is on the back nine of life but can't let go. That play applies to family businesses trying to pass the enterprise on to the next generation, or to the CEO who thinks he will live forever.

Another Henry, this one the Fifth. That's the English king with the outnumbered army who beat the French at Agincourt by motivating his troops with the big speech ("We band of brothers .?.?. ") and using the terrain to his advantage (not to mention the longbow). Lesson: Make them fight on your terms, motivate through speeches and, once you've won, treat it like a merger and not an acquisition.

Hamlet's pondering of suicide with his "to be or not to be" provides a lesson in crisis management.

Julius Caesar, a story of a conspiracy to kill the king, is a case study in how to execute a takeover and what not to do after you win. Adelman holds out Julius Caesar as something George W. Bush should have read before the Second Iraq War.

The Adelmans are both from Chicago. Ken attended Grinnell College in Iowa and Carol went to the University of Colorado.

He had never taken a Shakespeare course, and Carol -- who was active in theater -- remembers sleeping through King Lear. They met at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. 

Ken, though, has an innate love of Shakespeare plays, and early in their dating took her to one of his favorites at the Folger Theatre on Capitol Hill. When they came out of the theater, Carol asked him to help explain it to her.

Thus began a decades-long mutual love of the Bard. They've seen all of Shakespeare's plays multiple times. At last count, they had seen 27 stage productions of Hamlet.

Movers & Shakespeares grew out of a book Ken wrote with former Lockheed Martin chief executive Norm Augustine called "Shakespeare in Charge," about the leadership lessons not-so-hidden in the plays.

It made money, but Augustine had to get back to his day job. Ken and Carol teamed up and started giving speeches.

"I said to Carol, 'This is stupid. We are talking about Shakespeare on leadership, but we should show it to them.'?"

A 1997 engagement for Northrop Grumman marked the couple's big breakthrough. The head of the contracting giant's $8 billion electronic systems arm near Baltimore said he wanted to use the classics as a vehicle for business lessons. Ken presented his Shakespeare lessons before 25 of the division's top executives.

The next day, the executive in charge of the electronics division called and said he would purchase 11 sessions over the next year. The Adelmans now have a substantial stable of regular clients, who pay travel expenses plus the $28,000 fee.

The fee is the same whether your audience listens for 50 minutes or five hours.

Most sessions include a pre-interview with company executives to search for stress points and find what goals they want to achieve -- leadership, motivation, diversity. The Adelmans map out a session plan, which includes parts of films of Shakespeare plays, accordingly.

Carol said the best instruction comes from videos and explanations.

"Shakespeare was not meant to be read; it was meant to be seen on the stage or on the screen," she said.

I visited a session about a year ago at the Smithsonian, but was asked to leave by a staffer. My guess is that they thought I was going to make fun of it.

Ken said his price is a drop in the bucket if it succeeds in getting managers to think.

"The expensive part is the people in the room," he said. "They are taking a lot of highly paid, high-performing people and putting them in a room for the day. We better give them something they are going to use and remember, or they aren't getting their money's worth."

I asked if he had ever bombed, and both Adelmans recalled a session a few years ago when a bunch of 30-something Wall Street bankers sat impassively during the entire day, "too cool for school," as Ken described it.

The Adelmans don't advertise. They don't really have to. They get between 15 and 20 gigs a year.

Ken's international connections helped reel in a Shakespeare session in India, where the biggest English language paper in the country paid them to fly over for a 50-minute session.

"It was a great gig," Ken said. "We spent four days there."

Carol complained that I kept harping on the money they made off Shakespeare.
Then I was reminded of a quote from "Hamlet": "The lady doth protest too much."

Back to All

Aspen Ideas: Adventures in Shakespeare

Aspen Ideas: Adventures in Shakespeare

By Andrew Travers

They dressed me in chain mail. They gave me a sword and a script.
World leaders and giants of industry were discussing big ideas across the Aspen Institute campus and here we were 14 of us, in a semicircle beside the Marble Garden costumed like a pack of Renaissance Fair rejects, looking nervously at our pages, mouthing our lines in preparation.

The occasion was Carol and Ken Adelman's "Taking Shakespeare from Page to Stage" session at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Friday part of the welcome addition of participatory learning to the 2015 festival that also included ukulele lessons improv classes and coding workshops.
Ken the neocon diplomat, former Donald Rumsfeld hand and author of "Shakespeare in Charge" and Carol had 50 minutes to turn us into Shakespearean thespians. None of us are likely to hit the stage at the Globe Theatre anytime soon, but the crash course offered an irreverent, silly opportunity to better understand the bard.

The Adelman's opened by having an actor perform Hamlet's speech to the players ("Speak the speech I pray you..."). which was meant as a guide, Ken told us, not to overdo it in our performances.

John Doerr, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, donned a king's crown and velvet robe and performed Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 the one about love being blind that opens "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun..."

A long married couple did a scene from "All's Well That Ends Well," in which a courtier attempts to convince the maiden Helena to give up her virginity.

"Too late for that!" quipped our Helena before her performance.

For my part, as Dick the butcher from "Henry VI," I had a single line: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." My scene partner, playing Jack the rebel, was at the festival representing the U.S. Air Force Academy. He had many more lines than I, and despite my crowd pleasing material, I don't think I managed to upstage him. Adelman introduced us by explaining that the "kill all the lawyers" line is one of the most misunderstood in Shakespeare's work and that, in context, it's actually a compliment to attorneys for bringing order to society. Carol instructed me to wave my sword as I performed my line. I did. Our scene drew polite applause.

Television director Jay Sandrich ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "The Cosby Show") offered us notes on our performances he was refreshingly, if insensitively, blunt about our collective amateur skill level.
"You're just reading the lines," he explained. "That's not really acting."

Maybe not. But our brief and embarrassing adventure in Shakespeare offered some unexpected laughs and insight on this Ideas Fest afternoon.

Hindustan Times | Shakespeare in age of PowerPoint

Hindustan Times | Shakespeare in age of PowerPoint

By HT Correspondent

The post-lunch session on 'Leadership Lessons from Shakespeare' on the first day of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit was conducted by Shakespeare-wallahs, former US government officials Kenneth and Carol Adelman. In a departure from the usual session format, they showed three film clips based on William Shakespeare's plays and then discussed the lessons learnt from them.

The first was the advice given by Polonius in Hamlet about keeping wise counsel; the second was Portia's plea for mercy to Shylock in The Merchant of Venice; and the last was Henry V's rousing speech before the Battle of Agincourt in Henry V.

The crowd seemed most taken with the clip from Hamlet where Polonius is seen telling his son Laertes "Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice".

Another delegate wondered aloud whether, like Henry before the battle, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi could turn the current political crisis into an opportunity.

Kenneth, who did three stints as a foreign service official under the former US secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld, first supported the Iraq war and then became disillusioned with it.

Was there a lesson from the English bard that came to mind while looking at the mess created by his ex-boss?

"Yes, one from Hamlet," replied Kenneth without hesitation.

"It's when Claudius says, 'When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions'."

Back to All

Hindustan Times | Is Shakespeare relevant today?

Hindustan Times | Is Shakespeare relevant today?

The session on Leadership Lessons from Shakespeare, at the ongoing Hindustan Times Leadership Summit saw an interactive discussion on the relevance of the English bard in today's times.

Shakespeare scholars Carol Adelman & Ken Adelman of Movers & Shakespeare engaged with the audience on the universality and relevance of Shakespeare today.

The session began with a clipping from Tabu-Irrfan Khan starrer film, Maqbool, the movie adaptation of Shakespeare's famous play, Macbeth.

"Most Macbeth adaptations don't have dancing sequences and this only goes on to show the universality of Shakespeare. There have been 400 films made on Shakespeare plays and as they say in Hollywood and Bollywood, 'Shakespeare has legs'".

Talking about Shakespeare's relevance today, she said, "There are three main reasons: First, he gives the greatest insights in human nature. Second, most beautiful words come from Shakespeare and third, he told the greatest stories."

The audience was treated to movie clippings from Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice and Henry V for motivational and leadership ideas.

The Adelmans engaged with the audience on inspiration from Shakespeare about presentation skills and how to be a good leader. They jokingly asked them to refer to the bard for tips on how to suck up to the boss and backstabbing.

The session ended with a line from Shakespeare: Can one desire too much of a good thing?

If it is Shakespeare, never for sure!

Back to All

Knowledge@Wharton | What Shakespeare's 'Henry V' Tells Us about Leadership, Motivation, Wooing and Hanging

Knowledge@Wharton | What Shakespeare's 'Henry V' Tells Us about Leadership, Motivation, Wooing and Hanging

It has been described as one of the greatest battles of all time -- the fight between Henry V of England and the French army on October 25, 1415, at Agincourt in northern France. Henry, whose goal was to reclaim English territory seized by France in earlier centuries, had approximately 6,000 men. The French army, depending on which historical report you read, had anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 soldiers, many of them knights in armor prepared to fight on foot and on horseback. The English army had neither armor nor horses, and they were exhausted by their two-month trek across France trying to reach what was then the English port of Calais.

But they did have what turned out to be a decisive advantage -- Henry V's leadership skills and his ability to innovate in ways that would turn significant disadvantages into game-winning advantages. In addition, before the battle started, he delivered one of the most famous motivational speeches in history -- at least as it is written in Shakespeare's Henry V. The speech has been played on Allied ships crossing the English Channel to Normandy during World War II; in locker rooms by football coaches losing at half time, and on the Internet for U.S. soldiers about to leave for duty in Iraq.

Here is how Henry won: He stopped his army on a field that was flanked on either side by woodlands, thus forcing the French army to move forward through a narrow funnel and neutralizing their superior numbers. He took full advantage of a rainfall that had muddied the battlefield and that would prove disastrous for the armored French soldiers -- when they slipped backwards wearing their 60-pound armor, they couldn't hoist themselves back up; when they fell forward, they drowned in the mud.

In addition, rather than rely on the more traditional, easy-to-use crossbow, Henry chose the long bow, which could fire arrows more quickly and at greater range. The resulting hail of arrows killed French soldiers behind the front line, taking away urgently needed reinforcements. Henry armed his men with pikes a foot longer than those used by the French, allowing English soldiers in hand-to-hand combat to deliver the first, and usually lethal, blow. And, in what has been described as a last minute innovation, Henry planted sharp stakes in the ground just at the point of the battle's engagement. The French army's horses, rushing forward, were impaled on the stakes and fell to the ground, crushing soldiers around them and blocking the path forward for others.

When the fighting stopped after several hours, the French had lost about 6,000 men, and the English about 450.

Some version of this battle has been told in history books, in Shakespeare's play and, two weeks ago, by Carol and Ken Adelman, founders of Movers & Shakespeares, which uses the world's greatest playwright to teach modern management skills to executives. The Adelmans were at Wharton as part of a Wharton executive education program called "The Leadership Journey."

Carol Adelman is director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Prosperity where, among other things, she developed the annual Index of Global Philanthropy and Remittances. Ken Adelman is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and director of the U.S. Arms Control & Disarmament Agency during the Reagan administration.

The two started Movers & Shakespeares eight years ago because, as Carol noted during the course, William Shakespeare offers his audience exceptionally astute insights into human nature and has a genius for telling stories, which, she suggested, "is the best way to learn." The downside to the bard, she added, is that the language can be tedious and hard to understand -- something that comes as no surprise to high school students everywhere.

The Adelmans' approach is to delve into the language and extract leadership lessons from Shakespeare'splays. In this particular session, the focus was on Henry V, brought to life by a series of scenes from the1989 movie starring Kenneth Branagh as Henry and Emma Thompson as the French princess Katharine. The class discussion centered on the battle scene, the motivation speech, Henry's wooing of Katharine,the punishment meted out to a soldier caught stealing, and the conference between Henry V and the Archbishop of Canterbury before Henry sets sail for France.

This 'Band of Brothers'

From the description of the battle at Agincourt, it's clear that Henry V displayed remarkable leadership capabilities, said Ken Adelman. He led by example, situating himself in the middle of the fighting whereas the French king, Charles VI, stayed in Paris, leaving the army under the leadership of a group of nobles. "Henry was willing to innovate, recognizing, for example, the superiority of the long bow and making sure his men were well-trained in how to use it," Adelman noted. Before Agincourt, the English army was 80% foot soldiers and 20% archers. After Agincourt, it was 20% foot soldiers and 80% archers.

Yet perhaps the English army's biggest asset was the speech Henry made to his men just before going intobattle, including the famous sentence, "All things are ready if our minds be so." (The words are Shakespeare's; the actual text of the speech does not exist.) Even before speaking, Henry walks among his troops listening to what they are saying and feeling, and then positions himself in their midst to deliver his address. By contrast, the French leaders (in the Branagh movie) are shown at the head of their army, uttering confident phrases unable to be heard by any of their soldiers.

Here are excerpts from Henry's speech in the play:

"That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us...

Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that shed his blood with me
Shall be my brother."

"Henry painted a vision of what success looked like," said Adelman. "He spoke of God, and never mentioned the word 'defeat.' He talked about children being proud of their fathers who fought in this battle. He said 'we are a band of brothers' and he is one of them. He connected to the mission and to the people."

In addition, Adelman noted, Henry said he did not want one more man on his side because it would dilute the glory, and he told the troops that if any man didn't want to fight, then he should feel free to go.

Finally, Henry called out some of his key people "and said they would be household words." In our workplaces today, Adelman told the class, "we can't bring religion in but we can remind employees that we have a higher purpose, and we can communicate to them that vision."

Legitimizing the Mission

Contrast Henry's moving speech with a scene earlier in Henry V during which the young (age 28) newly crowned king asks the Archbishop of Canterbury a simple question: Does he, Henry, have the right to reclaim France? The response from the Archbishop is long-winded, meandering and almost impenetrable. An excerpt:

"Nor did the French possess the Salique land
Until four hundred one and twenty years
After defunction of King Pharamond,
Idly supposed the founder of this law;
Who died within the year of our redemption
Four hundred twenty-six; and Charles the Great
Subdued the Saxons, and did seat the French
Beyond the river Sala, in the year
Eight hundred five. Besides, their writers say,
King Pepin, which deposed Childeric,
Did, as heir general, being descended
Of Blithild, which was daughter to King Clothair...."

The speech continues in this vein until Henry finally is forced to repeat the question: "May I with right and conscience make this claim?" (The answer, eventually, is "yes.") The Archbishop's performance is not that different, Carol Adelman noted, from executive presentations that ramble; use obscure language, irrelevant facts, and charts and graphs that no one understands; and allude to unspoken subplots that hint at, rather than reveal, the meaning of the presenter's words.

Indeed, the outcome of the discussion between Henry and the Archbishop had already been decided before the meeting took place. Based on earlier speeches in the play, it is known that the Archbishop will grant Henry the right to attack France because Henry had earlier agreed to stop a bill in Parliament that would have taxed the church and taken away half its land. We also know that Henry entered the discussion with the full support of the English nobles who had visions of plundering the land and richesof a defeated France. As for the king himself, he favored war in order to gain the respect of the Englishpeople and the nobles of the English court. But none of this is mentioned during the talk between Henry and the Archbishop, nor is there discussion of substantive questions, such as: Could England Actually win? How many troops would be needed to secure that victory?

So why have the meeting at all? "For unity and affirmation from the church," said Ken Adelman. "God gives Henry the right to invade France. The battle is legitimized." Equally important, he added, is that "Henry has the last word, which provides further clarity and legitimization for the mission ahead." As the king says: "Now are we well resolved; and, by God's help, and yours, the noble sinews of our power, France being ours, we'll bend it to our awe, or break it all to pieces...."

The question for the leadership course: Is this a good way to reach a major decision? Adelman's response:"In my experience, this is the only way to go if you want to make a big change in your organization. You have to meet with all the interested parties before hand and get them behind you. You have to meet the specific interests of different groups before you can align the group behind the big goal."

It's true in business and also in politics, he noted. Adelman remembered attending a meeting called by the national security advisor (NSA) during the Reagan administration. The object was to debate SDI(Strategic Defense Initiative), an idea which Reagan had long championed. Indeed, the President had already spoken about SDI with all the relevant groups before the meeting even took place, and Adelman as well had been asked by the NSA to show his support. "So when it came time to agree on implementing the initiative, everybody present, including [Secretary of Defense] Caspar Weinberger and [Secretary of State] George Shultz, was on board," said Adelman. And at the end of the very agreeable discussion, "Reagan looked around the room and said, 'This has been a great meeting.'"

To Hang or Not to Hang

Henry V is full of other teachable moments, including a scene where Henry's childhood friend and drinking companion, Bardolph, has been caught stealing a pewter chalice from a French church. Henry had ordered his men to refrain from pillaging French property or harming French civilians; anyone who disobeyed this order, he had stated, would be hung. 

When Bardolph is captured by one of the English soldiers shortly before the battle and brought to Henryon horseback, tied up and badly beaten, the other soldiers look to their king to see whether he will order the death of his friend. The question for the executive education class becomes: What should Henry have done?

The "anti-hanging" advocates argue that the prisoner had already suffered a brutal beating, that the crime is relatively minor, that Bardolph had no chance to defend himself, and that the outmanned English army needs every soldier it can get for the upcoming battle. The "pro-hanging" advocates respond that the policy was clear, that the king wanted to convey a message to the French people that he would not tolerate the looting of their countryside, that the king should not compromise on core values (one of them being "don 't steal"), and that the king should not undermine his own aides, who were in favor of enforcing the policy.

Henry orders his friend to be hung. While CEOs these days are fortunately not able to hang employees who break a company's code of conduct, Henry's decision with regard to Bardolph raises questions about executive authority and the appropriate "punishment" for offenders. "The king may be more concerned with his own reputation" than with whether his decision was morally right or wrong, suggested Adelman, but he is a young king "who needs to show his toughness."

Artful Wooing

The famous wooing scene in Henry V takes place in a royal palace in Paris during a meeting that is attended by Henry, the French king and queen, and princess Katharine, among others. Henry is negotiating what he insists on calling the "peace treaty" (to avoid humiliating the French with words like "surrender") and has decided to woo Katharine to be his queen rather than merely order up the marriage, as he is allowed to do under the terms of the proposed treaty. Wooing was probably a good idea, said Adelman: "After all, Henry had just put her father out of business and killed 6,000 French soldiers." Good communication and persuasion skills could help get this royal couple off on the right foot.

Excerpts from Henry's wooing of Katharine (whom he is soon calling "Kate") show just how astute a wooer he is:

"Fair Katharine, and most fair,
Will you Vouch safe to teach a soldier terms
Such as will enter at a lady's ear
And plead his love-suit to her gentle heart?...

And while thou livest, dear Kate, take a fellow of plain and
uncoined constancy; for he perforce must do thee
right, because he hath not the gift to woo in other
places: for these fellows of infinite tongue, that
can rhyme themselves into ladies' favours, they do
always reason themselves out again. What! a
speaker is but a prater; a rhyme is but a ballad. A
good leg will fall; a straight back will stoop; a
black beard will turn white; a curled pate will grow
bald; a fair face will wither; a full eye will wax
hollow: but a good heart, Kate, is the sun and the
moon; or, rather, the sun, and not the moon; for it
shines bright and never changes, but keeps his
course truly. If thou would have such a one, take
me; and take me, take a soldier; take a soldier,
take a king. And what sayest thou then to my love?
speak, my fair, and fairly, I pray thee...."

At one point, Katharine asks if it is possible that she could love an enemy of France. Henry replies:

"No; it is not possible you should love the enemy of
France, Kate: but, in loving me, you should love
the friend of France; for I love France so well that
I will not part with a village of it; I will have it
all mine: and, Kate, when France is mine and I am
yours, then yours is France and you are mine."

At another point, Henry attempts to speak to Katharine -- in French, despite his lack of fluency:

"I will tell thee in French; which I am
sure will hang upon my tongue like a new-married
wife about her husband's neck, hardly to be shook....

When I come to woo ladies, I fright them. But, in faith,
Kate, the elder I wax, the better I shall appear:
my comfort is, that old age, that ill layer up of
beauty, can do no more, spoil upon my face: thou
hast me, if thou hast me, at the worst; and thou
shalt wear me, if thou wear me, better and better:
and therefore tell me, most fair Katharine, will you
have me?...

You have witchcraft in your lips, Kate: there is
more eloquence in a sugar touch of them than in the
tongues of the French council; and they should
sooner persuade Harry of England than a general
petition of monarchs. Here comes your father."

The wooing scene, as Adelman and "The Leadership Journey" participants pointed out, was notable - and successful -- for several reasons. Henry asked everyone to leave the room except for Katharine and her lady-in-waiting; he was a good listener and changed his speech based on what he heard from Katharine; he made himself vulnerable by stating that he was a great king and soldier but not very successful with women, and he said he would wear well in old age (alas, he died at age 34).

In addition, he converted himself from an enemy of France into a friend of France by saying he loved the country so much that he took it; he had a sense of humor; he was respectful and at several points, he even tried to speak Katharine's native language despite an almost comical inability to do so. As Adelman pointed out: "He incentivized her. She was the princess of a deposed king, and she left the room as a queen of England and France. It was a career-enhancing move for her."

Channeling Shakespeare on Your Own Stage

"By watching how historical figures behave in settings far before our time -- in this case, looking at the characters Shakespeare brought to life in Henry V -- we often get very good insights into what is vital inour own leadership or managerial moments," says Michael Useem, co-director of "The Leadership Journey" and director of the Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management. "We include Shakespeare in our range of learning experiences because it is one of the more indelible ways we have found of bringing points to life -- in part because of the power of his insights and also because of the intrinsic elements of the stories he tells."

If you are about to walk onto a stage at an offsite event, Useem adds, "looking at the language in Henry Vwill remind you to offer up the big purpose of why you are there and also to make it personal and motivational. For doing that, Henry V is about as good as it gets.

The New York Times | On Leadership: The Battle of Agincourt

The New York Times | On Leadership: The Battle of Agincourt

By Harriet Rubin

James Dimon rediscovered Shakespeare shortly after he was fired from his job as president of Citigroup by the man who had been almost like a father to him, Sanford I. Weill. 

As Mr. Dimon recounts it, he was invited to give a talk at Columbia Business School to students who had been studying power and succession using "King Lear." Mr. Dimon said he learned that afternoon in 1998 that in that play Shakespeare had written a case study that eerily predicted his dismissal from Citigroup and the rise and fall of Charles O. Prince III, who got the top job at Citigroup that once seemed likely to go to Mr. Dimon.

In an interview this week, as reporters were pressing him to discuss why his current employer, JPMorgan Chase, has so far weathered the subprime storm better than its rivals, Mr. Dimon took time out to acknowledge Shakespeare's lessons.

"In tough times like these, you see more of the good and more of the bad in people," Mr. Dimon said. "You can go for a long time and be fooled by people's behavior, but Shakespeare gives you insights that help you understand the people you are dealing with.

"I don't relate what's happening so much to the market as to how people behave. You want to know that in the foxhole with you is a person of good character, that they have a true north. Shakespeare is even better than Freud in showing you the characters you are dealing with."

Shakespeare has been a staple of management training for a long time. But only in the last few years have programs been started that use Shakespeare's works to teach chief executives the vulnerabilities to which the powerful are susceptible.

"C.E.O.'s are the modern kings and queens of the global world," says Kevin Coleman, a Shakespearean actor who dramatizes for chief executives how a mistake made in the global economy might have vast and unintended consequences.

Ken Adelman, a former Reagan administration official, and his wife, Carol, have been dressing managers in Elizabethan costumes since the 1990s. Senior executives have been increasingly joining the classes and re-enacting the speech in which Henry V urges his "band of brothers" to fight to the death. In 2002, Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass., became the new home of the Radcliffe-affiliated Arden Institute and offers quarterly seminars that analyze the moral actions of leaders. The Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va., has had a sideline in management coaching in conjunction with the Federal Executive Institute, but is tailoring its newest programs to leadership development.

David Rothkopf, the co-founder of a consulting firm that helps chief executives manage risks, said that character was "more crucial now than ever because past performance is no indicator of future performance." He added: "Experience falls away and all you're left with is character. That's the master insight of Shakespeare and a necessary insight because the higher a person rises, the less likely that someone's going to call him on his flaws."

Stephen Greenblatt, a professor of Renaissance literature and an expert in Shakespeare at Harvard, said that "Henry V" appeals to chief executives not because there are four or five management principles to be made of his career. "'Henry V' is actually a play about the necessity of betraying your friends at court, and dealing with the cost of that," Professor Greenblatt said. "Studying the consequences of these actions makes powerful people more richly human."

Mr. Coleman said he noticed the chief executives in a recent audience grow pale as he played the role of Hamlet confronted by the ghost of his father.

"The ghost demands, 'if you love me you will avenge my murder.'" The C.E.O.'s told him, Mr. Coleman said: "'This is the dilemma we face: what is our responsibility to shareholders, to employees, to clients?' It became an emotional discussion. C.E.O.'s who have to be so certain, so in control, were asking, 'What do I do as a person? Where does my loyalty and my sense of love and justice lie?'"

Chuck Schwager, chief executive of the Polaris Healthcare Corporation in Boston, said he had a conversion experience at a lecture on Shakespeare and power at Arden and became a part-time actor. "There are sensitivities about power that Shakespeare knew better than I did, and I wanted to find out what those were," Mr. Schwager said.

Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, said that Shakespeare was the last writer who lived at a socially fluid time that permitted him to work in close proximity both to kings and queens and to working people. He grasped the psyche of power, Mr. Gioia said.

"Corporations tend to be run by very ambitious and focused men and women," Mr. Gioia added. "They are not likely to be people who have learned the human truths that art teaches best. The higher you get in corporate life, the more you need the truths you get from Shakespeare, which point you in directions rather than provide you pat answers. We remember truths more vividly when they are embodied in a story."

Shakespeare was fascinated by the art of leadership, Professor Greenblatt said, and used his insight to found and lead London's most profitable theater. 

It is Shakespeare's very human language, says Ralph Alan Cohen, director of the Blackfriars, that helps contemporary leaders keep things honest. "Shakespeare's language is not old English. It's young English. It has all its hormones and is full of life. Organizations try to hide the force of human truth in every kind of Latinate term we can find, like 're-engineering' or 'Six Sigma.' Shakespeare empowers people to trust their own language, not the bureaucratic line."

James Fugitte, the chief executive of the Wind Energy Corporation, a start-up company, said the plays' language gave him insight into power. Mr. Fugitte said he was handed the leadership of a bank in Lexington, Ky., at age 27 and discovered that mastering the intricacies of portfolio management was not enough. "I learned the hard reality that people don't always tell the truth, they welch out on deals and don't repay loans."

To grasp human motivation, Mr. Fugitte said he started reading Shakespeare. That, he said, is when he realized that he, too, was not all he seemed, hardly the commanding leader: "I have the banker's habit of trying to avoid chaos. I don't let myself completely out. I feel like I've got to have a reserve against the next emergency."

To put himself in a fresh mind-set, he memorized the speeches of Falstaff, the king of amiable chaos, who keeps nothing in reserve. " 'A plague on all cowards,' Falstaff shouts. He's out there and that's what I need to do, to get beyond the impulse to analyze, control everything and stop it from happening.

"It's a Falstaffian world. When I began my career, there was a scarcity of capital. Now there's an abundance of capital." Falstaff, he added, "C'est moi."

Mr. Coleman, the actor, said that no other author "has as great a hold on our psyches." Shakespeare, he added, is "the operating system in our brains, always there, quietly humming." Of the top 10 books on almost all high school reading lists, 4 are usually by Shakespeare, and the others, like "A Separate Peace" or "To Kill a Mockingbird," are inspired by Shakespeare, Mr. Coleman added. "He becomes the voice of authority. Whatever you do, he'll haunt you for the rest of your life."

Wharton@Work | Shakespeare on Leadership

Wharton@Work | Shakespeare on Leadership

At the battle of Agincourt on October 25, 1415, the young English King Henry V faced extraordinary odds. To make his claim as ruler of France, Henry had crossed the channel to Calais with 10,000 men. In his first battle at Harfleur, he lost 4,000 men. The French army pursued him, with 30,000 to 60,000 men (or more), well armored, well fed, and well rested, with a strong cavalry. Henry chose to stand his ground with his 6,000 men at Agincourt and prevailed against the odds - primarily through his clever strategy and force of leadership.

During a recent session of Wharton's The Leadership Journey: Creating and Developing Your Leadership program, executives considered the lessons from William Shakespeare's play Henry V. Why study Shakespeare? While some managers may be put off by the language of Shakespeare's plays ("It's Greek to me," as the Bard would say), there are three reasons to use Shakespeare to study leadership. First, he offers a window into human nature. Second, he tells the best stories, and stories are critical to leadership. Third, he is a master of language, and leaders need to be effective communicators.

"To be a great leader, you have to understand people," said Carol Adelman, who led the session with her husband Ken, founders of Movers & Shakespeares. After distinguished careers in government service, they have conducted sessions on Shakespeare and leadership in diverse business, educational, and government organizations.

Building Coalitions

The opening scene of the Wharton session could have been a modern business meeting. A bureaucrat drones on about an obscure legal principle while participants in the meeting stare blankly. In a meeting with the king and English noblemen, the archbishop of Canterbury presents the argument for Henry's right to govern France. With little discussion, Henry makes his decision to go into battle.

But before this meeting, Henry astutely had aligned the interests of all the major players. For the nobles, the conquest of France offered access to rich resources and plunder. The clergy, by offering a religious justification for the invasion, gained the king's support to kill a pending bill in Parliament that would have taken half of church lands and imposed heavy fines. The king himself saw the French campaign as a chance to demonstrate his leadership, secure his hold on the English throne, and make his indelible mark on history. None of these issues is discussed during the meeting, but the work in building coalitions was done beforehand. The meeting is a formality that ensures that everyone has bought into the plan. "It can be a very costly mistake if you don't do this kind of consensus building," said Ken Adelman.

Rising to the Challenge of Leadership

Taking up the mantle of leadership changes the leader and all his relationships. Prince Hal was known for his drinking with friends Falstaff and Bardolph. But when he took the crown as King Henry V, he needed to rise to this new role. At his coronation, he brushed aside Falstaff ("Get thee gone, old man.") During his campaign in France, Henry faced a more severe test. Because he hoped to rule France peacefully after the war, Henry had told his soldiers that the penalty for rape and pillaging during the campaign would be death. When his old friend Bardolph was brought to him after taking a pewter goblet from a church, Henry had to choose between his past friendship and his new authority. Henry gave the nod to hang him.

"What we saw here is holding people to certain standards, holding them accountable," said Ken Adelman. "How much should organizations hold people accountable to zero tolerance?"

Attaining a position of senior leadership often changes the leader. US administration leaders expected little change when Anwar Sadat came to power in Egypt. Similarly, Mikhail Gorbachev, a career communist leader in the Soviet Union, and F.W. de Klerk, a proponent of Apartheid in South Africa, were expected to make few changes before they came to power. The world was surprised.

"All three leaders were in their organizations, but when they got to a position of leadership, they changed. They were no longer cogs in the wheel. They were the wheel now," said Carol Adelman. "Henry had to learn to be the boss and handle a supervisory role."

Strategy and Motivation

The triumph at Agincourt was a testament to Henry's strategy and his ability to motivate his followers. Henry's military strategy turned the strengths of his opponents into weaknesses. The size of the French army meant nothing on the narrow battlefield Henry chose at Agincourt, fringed by thick forests on both sides. Only a small portion of the French could face the British at a given time. The superior French horses and armor were a liability on the muddy battlefield, and Henry erected a set of sharpened stakes to drive the horses back. Henry also lengthened his lances and shifted most of his forces to the longbow. These archers, with a range of three football stadiums, could fire tens of thousands of arrows every minute into the advancing French, killing them before they reached the English lines. By the end of the battle, there were 6,000 French dead and only about 475 English casualties. "Henry shaped the battlefield himself," said Ken Adelman.

Even so, before the battle began, Henry's men were overwhelmed by the odds against them. They knew their young king had lost 40 percent of his army at Harfleur. As the king, in disguise, walked through the camp the night before the battle, he heard the grumbling. The next day, on the eve of the battle, Henry made his famous St. Crispin's Day speech. He told the men that they did not want more men here to share the glory of their victory. He said they would all be remembered as heroes on this day. He appealed to their camaraderie, as a "band of brothers." At the end, Henry asked one of the primary doubters if he still wished to have more reinforcements. The nobleman replied, "You and I alone can win this." Henry connected them to a higher mission but also appealed to their own egos and desire for glory.

"He expresses passion, emotion, and total confidence," said Carol Adelman. "He recognizes the people he works with by name and paints a picture of the future, how they will be showing their scars from this battle years later. And he puts himself right there with them as a band of brothers."

Henry V offers many other lessons, including how to win over a new partner after a hostile takeover (as he does with the French princess, Katherine). While the stories and plays are hundreds of years old, the leadership challenges are the same ones that are faced by leaders in every age.

"Shakespeare speaks the language of leadership," said Carol Adelman. "When you have a crisis, you can't just stand behind the podium. You need to think about language to inspire people."

Back to All

Industrial Engineer | Bard in Charge

Industrial Engineer | Bard in Charge

By Monica Elliott

When Marc Antony spoke at Caesar's funeral, the power of his words swayed the crowd, but it was the timing of his oratory that really won them over. By saving his appeal for last, Antony managed to stir up his friends, Romans, and countrymen against Brutus and Caesar's other assassins and gain support for his own agenda, which, fortunately, was the morally correct one.

Their diverse client lists includes the U.S. Air Force, Wharton Business School, McKinsey, and McGraw-Hill, but most of their clients are engineers. In fact, their biggest client is Northrop Grumman, and for Ken Adelman, it's not hard to guess why the Shakespearean approach is such a good fit for engineering management.

"First of all, they love it because they love problem solving. Engineers love to figure something out, and Shakespeare gives them something to exercise their brains," he says.

Adelman knows a little something about advising leaders on strategy, having served as President Ronald Reagan's chief advisor on arms control. But Adelman admits that even though he as taught Shakespeare courses at universities, he has never been trained in literature and is more a Shakespearean enthusiast than a true scholar. He and his wife concentrate primarily on the leadership lessons within the plays, for example, examining the character of Hamlet in the context of crisis management - what Hamlet did wrong, what Claudius did right.

"We're not in the business of teaching Shakespeare; we teach leadership," Adelman explains.

So what plays does the instructor recommend? "Henry V is probably the best starter. Merchant of Venice is great for a follow-on or Juilus Caesar - Merchant of Venice about risk taking and diversity, Julius Caesar about communication and planning."

Because the language in the plays has been known to frustrate even the most apt pupil, the instructors rely heavily on sundry film versions of the plays to bring their lessons to life. They set up a scene, show it, and then discuss it. Students engage in breakout sessions so that they can relate what they are learning to their own businesses. And at the end of the training course, students have an opportunity to dress up in costumes and inhabit some of the Bard's famous characters.

The fact that companies keep sending their executives to Movers and Shakespeares speaks to the effectiveness of these techniques, but Adelman pinpoints three reasons that the true draw is Shakespeare as an arbiter of leadership savvy: "e had the greatest insights into human history, and all success...in life depends on sizing people up, knowing how to motivate them, knowing how to bring out the best in people. Second, he told stories, and people learn more through stories than they do through PowerPoint presentations or do's and don'ts. And three, he's the greatest [at] language, and leadership is about language."

Ambition can be made of no sterner stuff.

Back to All

SalesForceXP | All the Business World's a Stage

SalesForceXP | All the Business World's a Stage

By Jennifer Juergens

When executive trainer Carol Adelman greeted 20 top performers from the Chicago office of Foote, Cone & Belding, a worldwide advertising agency, with the question, "How much do you know about Shakespeare?" Mark Modesto, president of FCB in Chicago, feared that the day could go right into the drink, or river Avon, as it were.

By the end of the day, however, Modesto was surprised at how Shakespeare-savvy his management group was, and even more surprised at how much Shakespearian philosophy applies to the modern business world.

Back to All

Successful Meetings | Will to Power

By Sara J. Welch

With today's business books extolling everyone from Winnie-the-Pooh to Atilla the Hun, it was only a matter of time before someone claimed the Bard. Now thanks to Movers & Shakespeares, executives who slept through Lear senior year can get a crash course in the leadership secrets of Petruchio and Henry V.

Run by Carol and Ken Adelman of Arlington, Virginia, Movers & Shakespeares offers training seminars that take the dramatist's 400-year-old psychological insights from the boards to the boardroom. No reading's required - "I don't even read Shakespeare," admits Mr. Adelman. Rather, attendees watch movie versions, discuss management lessons like Brutus' ability to "get the job done" (read: off Caesar), then don jerkins to act in after-dinner skits. "The joy of this, says Mrs. Adelman, "is bringing the most beautiful words of the last millennium into the next."

Besides dinner and a toast to the Bard, the Adelmans have no special plans for the 23rd of this month, Shakespeare's birthday. But considering Will coined the phrase "happy hour" (along with "hobnob," "pander," and other biz-friendly terms), what, forsooth, could be more appropriate?

Back to All

The New York Times | Friends, Generals and Captains of Industry, Lend Me Your Ears

The New York Times | Friends, Generals and Captains of Industry, Lend Me Your Ears

By Bruce Weber

QUEENSTOWN, Md. - The Air Force generals were hard on Brutus. The consensus was that he acted with deadly force when other avenues were open to him. He made a bad decision, they said - at least as it was portrayed by Shakespeare - to sanction and lead the conspiracy to murder Julius Caesar.

"Brutus is not an honorable man," said Lt. Gen. William R. Looney III, one of 20 or so senior Air Force officers and executives - mostly two and three-star generals and their civilian equivalents - gathered at the Aspen Institute for a daylong leadership seminar here. "He was a traitor. And he murdered someone in cold blood."

And though General Looney acknowledged that Brutus had the good of the republic in mind, Caesar was nonetheless his superior. "You have to understand," the general said. "Our ethos is to obey the chain of command."

During the last few years Shakespeare has assumed a prominent place in the management guru firmament, as business executives and trade-book writers looking for a novel way to advise corporate America have begun exploiting his wisdom for profitable ends.

And lately the United States military has signed up for Shakespeare's advice as well. For the last two years, the United States Air Force has contracted with Movers & Shakespeares, a company run by Kenneth L. Adelman, a Republican political consultant who is probably best known as having been President Ronald Reagan's chief adviser on arms control. Mr. Adelman and his wife, Carol, also a Reagan administration veteran, are amateur Shakespeare scholars and Shakespeare lovers and they have marshaled their avocation and their high-level contacts into a management-training business. They have been peddling their services since 1995 , and now conduct between 30 and 40 seminars annually, focusing on half a dozen different plays, mostly for corporate clients, but also for government agencies.

When James G. Roche, the former secretary of the Air Force (who stepped down on Jan. 20), suggested that the Adelmans' program would fit in with the Air Force's larger effort to hone preparation of its leaders, it was because the couple had run seminars for him between 1999 and 2001 when he was a vice president at Northrop Grumman.

"We found it paid off," said Mr. Roche, who dropped in on the afternoon session of the Caesar seminar here. "People can talk about some things more easily when they do it in the context of the play. So when I became secretary, I suggested we try it with our officers." (The Air Force pays the Adelmans $18,000 per session, a discount from their corporate rate of $24,000.)

The seminars all take the same format, focusing on a single play as a kind of case history, and using individual scenes as specific lessons. In "Julius Caesar," for example, Cassius's sly provocation of Brutus to take up arms against Caesar was the basis for a discussion of methods of team-building and grass-roots organizing. The dueling funeral orations provided grist for a debate about the relative merits of logic and passion in persuasive speechifying.

The programs do conform to certain familiar contours of management training; the day's final exercise always involves each participant reciting "what I learned" and "what I'll do." But the sessions also include clips from film versions of the play at hand; the Caesar seminar showed Marlon Brando beseeching "friends, Romans and countrymen" to lend him their ears, and John Gielgud as Caesar being gored by Robert Vaughn and mourned by Charlton Heston. In addition, the Adelmans travel with certain props, and throughout the day, otherwise dour military types were prompted to deliver text readings wearing Roman helmets and togas.

"We once got Rumsfeld to wear a robe and a crown," Mr. Adelman recalled. He was referring to an early seminar, attended by the current defense secretary , Donald H. Rumsfeld, who was also defense secretary in the late 1970's, when Mr. Adelman was his assistant. "Then it took us two days to get it off him."

Although neither of the Adelmans is academically trained in literature, the programs are well steeped in Shakespeare lore and background. Their "Henry V" seminar, for example, includes a helpful explication of Henry's winning strategy at the Battle of Agincourt. But they do come to the text with a few biases. Their reading of "Henry V" minimizes the cynicism of the protagonist and more or less excuses his abuse of power. Instead, they emphasize the story of a profligate youth who seizes opportunity and becomes a masterful leader, a paradigm, Mr. Adelman pointed out, for the life of the current president. And at the Caesar seminar, he had little good to say about Brutus, calling "the noblest Roman of them all" a ditherer, "the epitome of a fuzzy-headed academic."

Most of the participants candidly said that they had been initially skeptical. Several confessed with a laugh that they hadn't read Shakespeare since high school and didn't understand it then. But their reviews, for both the playwright and the professors, were positive.

"For me the discussions are very fruitful," said Maj. Gen. Paul J. Fletcher. "Not to mention that as a science guy, the arts was something I never had time for. The exposure is just terrific." Obviously he's been learning his lessons. It was General Fletcher who noted the relatively subtle point that Shakespeare wrote Brutus's funeral oration in prose, but Marc Antony's in iambic pentameter, prompting a plaintive groan from across the room: "I don't even know what iambic pentameter is."

Many of the participants pointed to very specific elements in the play that they felt to be pertinent to their military lives. Caesar's arrogance, which led to his murder, and Brutus's mistakes in leading the conspirators after the assassination, they said, raise crucial questions for anyone serving in a hierarchy: When and how do you resist the boss?

And it did not escape the notice of those in the room that the conspirators' hasty act of revolt failed to consider its aftermath, the lesson being that thorough planning, for any leader, is paramount. Those who would depose Caesar had, in effect, no exit strategy.

"As we have heard," said Roger Blanchard, the Air Force's assistant deputy chief of staff for personnel, paraphrasing a famous locution of his boss, Secretary Rumsfeld, "we don't know what we don't know - there are unknown unknowns."

This was about as close as the discussion ever got to current events, though at one point, a parallel between Brutus and the conspirators and the Bush administration was raised. If the conspirators were in the wrong for taking violent action without hard evidence but only on suspicion of the tyrant Caesar might become, in effect making a pre-emptive strike, couldn't the same argument be applied to the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq and the absence of weapons of mass destruction?

"The president had more evidence than Brutus did," replied Mr. Adelman, who had been an early advocate of the Iraq invasion."

Still, the notion catalyzed a rather fervent debate about the relative merits of Brutus and Antony. On the one hand, Brutus's ambivalence about the assassination undermined his judgment; and then, after the bloody deed was done, he made gaffe after gaffe. Why in the name of heaven did he let Marc Antony speak last at the funeral? And yes, Antony was a snake, but he was a great motivator and politician. He knew how to get things done.

In the end, a more philosophical discussion evolved about leadership itself, something the men and women in the room agreed was worth considering more often than they do.

"This idea of being a good leader," said Lt. Gen. John Corley, neatly summarizing the session, "does it mean that your heart is pure?"

TD Magazine | Carol and Ken Adelman

TD Magazine | Carol and Ken Adelman

"To many people-even the well-educated-the plays of William Shakespeare are dense and obtuse, which would seem to make them an odd choice as business-topic teaching tools. But buried in the complex stories and challenging language of the Bard are potent lessons on leadership, crisis management, ethics, diversity, and other key business issues, say Carol and Ken Adelman.

Ken, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and U.S. arms control director for President Reagan, and Carol, who headed major overseas programs for the U.S. Agency for International Development, have channeled their love of Shakespeare and an understanding of complex organizations to create Movers & Shakespeares. Through their executive training company, the Adelmans bring business lessons to life-often with participants donning capes and crowns-for large and small audiences.

Timeless Lessons
"Enduring, timeless lessons come from Shakespeare," says Carol Adelman, the company president. "Shakespeare had the greatest insights into people. And to be a good manager, leader, or director, you have to understand people. You must know how to rally them around you and how to bring out the best in them."

Whether it's the famous St. Crispin's Day speech from "Henry V" (leadership) or admonitions from Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice" (diversity), the Adelmans have a scene from Shakespeare that speaks to key business challenges.

In front of groups from organizations as diverse as Northrop Grumman, the American Red Cross, and The U.S. Air Force, the Adelmans create an interactive environment that's customized to meet the learning need of the client. "We break down Shakespeare into bite-sized pieces," explains Ken Adelman. "The apprehension of a chief learning officer often is,'Oh my gosh, none of my people are going to understand this.'"

But at some point, usually about 20 minutes into the session, the participants become accustomed to the words and they begin to get it. "The confidence of the participants grows when they realize that they have just finished a scene on strategic decision making, and they actually understood what was incomprehensible to them before," explains Carol Adelman.

Back to All

US News & World Report | The Funky Professors

US News & World Report | The Funky Professors

By Christine Larson

A few years ago, when two senior executives at Northrop Grumman turned to each other while discussing a fierce competitor and said, in unison, "Agincourt," Katie Gray was baffled. Today, she's likely to say the same thing herself when faced with daunting odds. She might even quote a line or two from Shakespeare's St. Crispin's Day speech, delivered by Henry V to his outnumbered troops on the field of Agincourt. "We few, we happy few ... . "

If Gray did break into iambic pentameter, some 600 of her peers might join her. Since 1999, Gray, vice president of procurement and material management for Northrop Grumman's electronic systems sector, and other senior managers have completed a series of leadership workshops based on the Bard's plays. Presented by a Washington, D.C.-area group called Movers and Shakespeares, the sessions include movie clips, discussions of leadership dilemmas, and a finale in which willing executives don tights, doublets, and codpieces as they perform a Shakespeare-based skit. "More traditional leadership courses are helpful, but I don't retain the lessons the same way I do from these," says Gray.

It's not just Shakespeare who's teaching leadership these days. Executives from corporations as diverse as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Citibank, and Verizon are finding themselves sitting amid chamber orchestras, waving a conductor's baton, or even choreographing a few modern dance steps as part of leadership development programs. Dance, music, and drama give an artsy new twist to experiential learning, the same movement that has sent squads of managers hurtling through white water and rappelling down mountainsides in search of management wisdom. "The showing, not telling, is pretty powerful," says J. Richard Hackman, professor of social and organizational psychology at Harvard University. "Especially when you see something discrepant from your view of how the world actually works." Hackman has written about the unconventional leadership methods demonstrated by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, which does leadership forums with Morgan Stanley.

Speaking of unconventional methods, the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School's Leadership Ventures, which organizes the school's learning programs for students and alumni, recently added a workshop with the Connecticut-based modern dance group Pilobolus to its roster. Historically, the workshops have focused on excursions to Mount Everest, Antarctica, and other rugged locales. In one exercise with Pilobolus, the 30 or so participants were asked to take one step forward. The result: ragged, uncoordinated chaos. But after a few repetitions, with no further instruction or conversation, the line began to step forward in perfect unison. Exercises like these, says Itamar Kubovy, executive director of Pilobolus, show that leadership isn't just about giving orders. "Decisions that could never be attributed to one person are made collectively by the group, and suddenly the group has a purpose and structure and form."

With their innate emotional power and focus on creativity, the arts can bring management lessons to life in a way that escapes even the best keynote speakers. "Sure, I could bring in Bill Cosby or Bill Clinton to talk about leadership," says Ed Stanford, president of McGraw-Hill's higher education group, who has used an orchestra in management training sessions. "This provoked a very different experience than any kind of speech does. Partly, that's because the music makes it more dramatic."

Earlier this year, Stanford attended a Music Paradigm workshop in New York for McGraw-Hill executives. The organization brings a full orchestra into a conference room and then invites the executives to sit next to the musicians as the conductor demonstrates various leadership styles. During the session, the conductor, Roger Nierenberg, former music director of the Stamford (Conn.) Symphony Orchestra and the Jacksonville (Fla.) Symphony Orchestra, exaggerated every beat and nuance in a passage of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Then he asked the musicians what they thought. A cello player, for example, said he felt as if he was wearing a straitjacket. Another musician said he felt the conductor didn't trust him. "That knocked me over," says Stanford, who hired the group to train 250 of his managers in Chicago. "That's what micromanagement is all about--not trusting people."

Morgan Stanley regularly uses the Grammy-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra to demonstrate leadership by committee. Instead of using a conductor, the ensemble assigns a small group of musicians to pick a musical approach for each new piece in its repertoire. Participants watch the musicians brainstorm, critique one another's ideas, share the final musical direction with the whole orchestra, and produce a polished piece. Initially, participants resist the idea of group leadership, says Don Callahan, a managing director at Morgan Stanley. But by the end of the sessions, he says, "they've realized they're going to get much better results if they make every person a leader."

One aspect of arts leadership makes it particularly effective for bright, sometimes impatient executives: The lessons aren't spoon-fed. "If people can get the point on their own instead of you lecturing them, then they own it," says Tracey Draper, an organization development specialist at Northrop Grumman, which has used Movers and Shakespeares about 40 times. "What people get out of that short eight-hour day would take a lot longer to learn in a traditional setting." A discussion of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, for example, quickly opened the eyes of Northrop Grumman's Gray to a critical gender divide. While talking about the play's heroine, Isabella, who is forced to choose between her chastity and her brother's life, "all of the women in the room saw Isabella as being taken advantage of," says Gray. "But some of the men, although certainly not all of them, thought perhaps Isabella was the one taking advantage and using her feminine wiles." Gray says she has since become more aware of multiple points of view regarding issues that may at first have seemed clear-cut.

While such insights can have a lasting effect, the value of teaching them can be difficult to quantify, says Pat Galagan, a vice president at the American Society for Training and Development in Alexandria, Va. With arts-based programs costing $20,000 to $100,000 per engagement, she says, "you risk looking frivolous if you can't make a good business case for this." Galagan advises firms to ask training organizations how their sessions helped other clients boost sales or save time.

Jacqueline Martini, senior manager of sales training at Lucent Technologies, ensured that Movers and Shakespeares would successfully link high drama to high tech by arranging extensive briefings for the group's principals. The training team explained the company's strategies and objectives, so Movers and Shakespeares could tailor its session to the specific needs of Lucent's sales force.

Often, companies help clarify those parallels by incorporating arts-based workshops into larger training events. WPP, which owns Ogilvy & Mather, Burson-Marsteller, and numerous other communications firms, has used Music Paradigm on the third day of a weeklong program for senior executives. "The rest of the lessons during the week were taught for the mind," says Samantha Lucas, managing director of Burson-Marsteller, who took the course last year. "But this was a lesson that was heard by the body as well."

Back to All

Economist.com | Back to the Future

Economist.com | Back to the Future

Ancient leaders of the past could keep renowned counsel close at hand. Aristotle was tutor to Alexander the Great; the leaders of Rome leaned heavily on Plutarch. Today, with corporate America reeling from a seemingly endless parade of shady dealings, a good philosopher is harder to find. All the same, some senior managers have chosen to rethink their business ethics by turning to proven sages.

Shakespeare's plays, especially the histories, have long served as a source: "Every leader to his charge," commands Henry IV, and would-be kingly executives take heart. Movers & Shakespeares, a Virginia-based executive training company headed by Ken and Carol Adelman, has used Shakespeare's plays as a training tool since 1998. "Leadership has to do with understanding people and what makes them tick," says Ms Adelman, "and no one has a keener understanding of this than Shakespeare." In workshops lasting from 90 minutes to several days, the Adelmans guide participants through an analysis of leadership using a mixture of film clips, interactive lectures and small discussion groups.

Fortune | Chairman of the Bard

Fortune | Chairman of the Bard

By Julie Schlosser

Ken and Carol Adelman like nothing more than to see a CEO in tights. They aren't voyeurs; rather, the two former Republican politicos run Movers & Shakespeares, which uses lessons from the Bard to teach business skills to executives and MBA candidates. The programs, which run from two hours to a full week, cover everything from "change management" (The Taming of the Shrew) to diversity training (The Merchant of Venice). FORTUNE caught up with the Adelmans to discuss why the revered playwright resonates in the workplace. 

Q: How did your Beltway backgrounds lead to corporate Shakespeare? 

CAROL: Well, I would find myself coming home and saying to Ken, "I had a Polonius today at the office." Without batting an eyelash, he would say, "Did you handle it like Gertrude or Claudius?" 

Q: Why Shakespeare and not, say, Goethe? 

CAROL: Shakespeare had the greatest insights into human nature--the most important part of running a business is understanding people. He also told the greatest stories, and stories are the best learning tools.

Q: Was Stratford-upon-Avon a business mecca? 

KEN: Shakespeare was a wonderful businessman. Great artists like Michelangelo lived off the state, but Shakespeare was a capitalist. He had to appeal to popular opinion and popular taste. 

Q: You use Henry V for most of your presentations. Why? 

CAROL: It has motivation, leadership, and team building. Henry turns liabilities into assets. For instance, his outnumbered troops use the longbow, which helps them beat the French. He also exemplifies why mergers are better than acquisitions: He is "awarded" Kate, the daughter of the French king, in a war, but woos her anyway. 

Q: Give me the Shakespearean link to a few notable names: George W. Bush? 

KEN: George W. and Prince Hal have a lot in common. They both were born into a royal family, had a wayward youth with a lot of drinking, and seemed unpromising. Then they go to war: By the end of Henry V, Hal has become an outstanding leader like Bush is today. 

Q: Ken Lay? 

KEN: Julius Caesar. Lay may think he's been stabbed, but really it's his blinding arrogance that make him most like Caesar. 

Q: Bill Clinton? 

KEN: Claudius. Competent in a governmental basis but with tremendous personality flaws. 

CAROL: Despite the fact that he murdered his brother, then married his wife, throughout the play he is shown as a very competent king. 

Q: At the end of your sessions you dress participants in costumes. Have you put any executives in tights? 

KEN: Joseph Allen, the chairman of Veridian, donned tights and a codpiece. And we got Don Rumsfeld to play a king.... 

CAROL: But he didn't wear the tights. 

People Magazine | Will Power


'My Kingdom for a Consultant!' To be a better boss, say Ken and Carol Adelman, brush up your Shakespeare

Most power brokers won't blab about where they get the inside dope on allies and adversaries. But Ken and Carol Adelman—he's a Defense Department policy adviser, she's a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute think tank—readily identify their most reliable source. "Shakespeare," says Ken, "had the keenest insight into what makes people tick." The Adelmans, both 55, have long looked to the Bard as an aid in navigating the labyrinths of politics, business and family life (they have two grown daughters). And since 1998 they have offered his wisdom to CEOs and bigwigs-to-be through their company Movers & Shakespeares.

Their workshops—which last from 90 minutes to several days and cost from $4,000 to $18,000—are taught at such institutions as Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. The idea: to use the playwright's words to teach managerial skills. To motivate her troops, a boss can draw inspiration from the battlefield speech in Henry V ("We happy few, we band of brothers"). To silence a verbose underling, she might quote King Lear: "Have more than thou showest. Speak less than thou knowest."

Each workshop ends with students donning Elizabethan garb to act out what they've learned. "I've gotten more VIPs into tights and codpieces than anyone in this country," says Carol. Bill Clinton's former press secretary George Stephanopoulos donned a cape at a 1999 session and bemoaned his fate in the words of Lear's jester: "They'll have me whipped for speaking true. Thou'lt have me whipped for lying; and sometimes I am whipped for holding my peace!"

Though holding one's peace may not ward off a whipping, the Adelmans counsel that it is often the wisest course. Or, as Will himself put it: "The better part of valor is discretion."

Incentive Magazine | Change of Scene

Incentive Magazine | Change of Scene

By Jeanie Casison

The year is 1415. You are Henry V, the newly crowned king of England, leading a diminutive army against the French. Your soldiers are malnourished and fatigued. Tomorrow, you expect them to conquer France, whose militia outnumbers your force five-to-one. Despite the obstacles, you must convince the troops that they actually have a chance to win the Battle of Agincourt. So you make an attempt at your first motivational speech which, according to William Shakespeare, ended with these famous lines:

"And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's Day."

Never in your wildest dreams would you imagine that more than 500 years later, your story, via the writings of the Bard, would be the source of inspiration for the executives of Lockheed Martin, a Bethesda, MD.-based aerospace engineering company.

The year is 2000. In the meeting room of the Marriott Suites Bethesda, 22 participants of the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute are waiting to learn how the stories of Shakespeare are relevant to their own organization.

Standing before them are Carol and Ken Adelman, founders of the Arlington, VA.-based executive training company Movers and Shakespeares. Building on the material presented the evening before, Ken attempts to highlight the motivating merits of the pivotal Henry V speech.

"The St. Crispin's Day speech is an excellent example of how communication can motivate a group to embrace the vision of the organization. It is a projection of how the foot soldiers will look back on the battle as the greatest day of their lives," Ken Adelman tells the seminar attendees.

Soon, members of the Lockheed group are "on stage" themselves, dressed in period costume. Embracing the words of Shakespeare, they act out scenes from the talented scribe's greatest works. They explore, through performance, the relation between the wisdom of classical literature and the demands of the modern marketplace.

Straying from the classic didactic lecture, the Adelmans incorporate fun into the training process through the use of video clips, role playing and dramatic readings. More and more companies, from aerospace engineering firms to trade associations, are turning to inventive experiential modes of training similar to the Adelmans' creation. According to its founders, these innovative methods expose employees to a learning approach they are more likely to remember.

Role reversal
Diverse methods of training are evolving to meet the needs of corporations in search of new ways to increase employee performance and productivity. "Companies are always looking for the next big thing," says Robert Reiss, recent president of the American Society for Training and Development's (ASTD) New York chapter.

"In working with about 25 CEOs, I've learned that a major component of a CEO's function is isolating that next thing," he says. "For many years, academia was the source of that information. Now, the frontier is the world. Linking a program strategy to the exact element in the world that best demonstrates a concept, which of course is the core of inventive training, opens the door to a plethora of corporate solutions."

In order for any training program to be effective, it must link directly to one's corporate strategy. "When I look for a training facilitator, I look for someone who has information of value to our leadership. Their program has to be interesting, challenging and thought provoking," says Harold Manger, Ph.D., manager, Lockheed Martin Institutes. "In the last 18 years I have seen trainers place more emphasis on risk taking and experiential learning."

But there is an element of risk in experiential learning-that is the initial resistance some attendees may have to a new way of learning. One member of the Lockheed Martin audience was not exactly sure how the themes of Shakespeare would correspond to leadership. "Initially, I had reservations. I didn't know how the stories of Shakespeare would be productive or constructive," says Art Morrissey, vice president of business development for Lockheed Martin.

Morrissey not only found a new appreciation for Shakespeare, but he, along with two other Lockheed Martin executives, Linda Strine Shahan and Gary Brown, graciously volunteered to adapt a dramatis personae in front of their colleagues. Donning a king's crown and royal purple robe, Morrissey provided a witty Shakespearean spin to the modern-day concept of risk taking in mergers and acquisitions. Citing Pericles with fervor, Morrissey announced: "The great ones eat up the little ones."

"The experience put Shakespeare in whole new light for me. I could certainly link the communications example of Henry V to my own business experience. Effectively being able to present a point of view in a very inclusive discussion has attractive dimensions," says Morrissey. "Sometimes training can be stilted. But the Movers and Shakespeares session was filled with humor. I think humor is always a successful mechanism in learning and training," he says.

The dramatic themes of Shakespeare continue to resonate in the modern environment of business. Hostile takeovers have evolved in the form of mergers and acquisitions. Employees, like foot soldiers, must hone their skills to keep up with the competition. Henry V's motivational St. Crispin's Day speech exists in the modern form of a corporate mission statement.

"Corporate leaders understand that probing into human nature is what makes business succeed, more than technical or even economical skills. Any business can buy factories, the newest technology or office buildings, but understanding human nature is what makes a business successful. No one provides better case studies on human nature than William Shakespeare," says Ken Adelman.

The Movers and Shakespeares session was one component of the week-long Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute. The main objectives included giving participants a strategic overview of the corporation, refreshing basic leadership skills and exposing them to new concepts. "Segments on communication during the week dovetailed very nicely with the material covered by the Adelmans," says Manger.

Back to All

Forbes FYI | Bard in the Boardroom

Forbes FYI | Bard in the Boardroom

Our Washington friend Ken Adelman has worn many hats in his day: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Director of Arms Control under Ronald Reagan, one-time translator for Muhammad Ali and, for more than 20 years, professor of Shakespeare. Of late, he and his wife, Carol, whose accomplishments and charm make his own pale, have carved themselves an interesting niche as itinerant Shakespearean corporate- management motivators. They conduct half-day and day-long workshops on how Shakespeare can help your company with everything from beating the competition to human-resource management and labor negotiations.

It's a funny concept—down to chief operating officers prancing about in Shakespearean skits in tights—but apparently it's working. The New York Times reported that Northrop Grumman's Electronic Sensors and Systems Sector hired the Adelmans for a day to show its top managers how a close study of, among other plays, Henry V, could help them beat out competitors for that big Pentagon contract. Along the way, Northrop's executives had some fun and did some bonding, which isn't surprising, given who was urging them once more into the breach. The Adelmans would admirably adorn thy next management retreat. As the bard put it, "No profit grows where is no pleasure taken."

The New York Times | Forsooth, Check This Consultant

The New York Times | Forsooth, Check This Consultant

By Doreen Carvajal

BALTIMORE - James G. Roche faced a retinue of mostly middle-aged engineers wearing clip-on identity cards and called for his rubber sword.

A ruby-studded cardboard crown rested askew on his thinning silver hair, and his loafers clashed with a royal robe of blue trimmed with fake ermine. But there was no awkwardness in his voice as he delivered a classic stemwinder: "The game's afoot: Follow your spirit; and upon this charge cry 'God for Harry! England and Saint George!'"

Reciting King Henry V's fabled rallying cry to his troops, Mr. Roche, president of Northrop Grumman's Electronic Sensors and Systems Sector, is the self-crowned leader of his own company's effort to imbue its top executives with management skills inspired by characters in Shakespeare's 400-year-old plays

Shakespeare's monarchs may have relied on the chopping block as the ultimate pink slip and pillage as an acceptable threat. But his timeless characters are taking on fresh appeal lately, inspiring a minor literary boom in new management books and prompting executives like Mr. Roche to rely on Shakespeare as a corporate consultant.

"We had some problems with the union, and their complaint was that the executives were wimpy; they didn't know how to manage people," explained Mr. Roche, a former Navy captain who likens Northrop, the No. 4 military contractor, to Henry V's outnumbered forces at the Battle of Agincourt. "So we came up with this idea of studying the strategy of war. War is hell, and we're at war."

Northrop's unlikely theatrical coaches are Kenneth L. Adelman, a former arms control director in the Reagan administration, and his wife, Carol, also a former Reagan administration official for the Agency for International Development. They travel much like medieval itinerant actors themselves. With a collection of costumes and scripts, they have created a company called Movers and Shakespeare, which offers leadership training and improptu playacting like this recent daylong retreat for two dozen Northrop executives. The session was jokingly referred to as "drive-by Shakespeare."

"Business revolves around people, and no one has either the depth of insights into people or the appeal to reveal those depths greater than Shakespeare," said Mr. Adelman, who acknowledges that some executives remain wary about such lessons because of the fear that they know little about Shakespeare or - O viper vile! - might be forced to don tights.

Mr. Adelman has also written a management guide, "Shakespeare in Charge," with Norman R. Augustine, a former chief executive of Lockheed Martin. The guide, published by Talk Miramax Books, an imprint of Hyperion, is just one title in an expanding collection of new business books that a Globe Theater view of mergers and acquisitions, public relations and productivity.

In the executive suite version of Shakespeare, Henry V is a flexible leader and a motivational speaker who exudes confidence and rallies his followers by masking private doubts. His treatment of errant followers is decisive (translation: executions), but he is also capable of great charm and humor during critical merger talks (translation: a marriage proposal for the anxious French princess, Katherine).

This year, Shakespeare and his characters have inspired at least three business books, with two on such a similar wavelength that they carry the same title: "Shakespeare on Management." A fourth also tentatively carried that name but is now scheduled for publication in June as "Power Plays." That book was co-written by Tina Packer, founder of the Massachusetts-based Shakespeare & Company theater, and John Whitney, a former president of Pathmark Supermarkets, who teaches a popular Columbia University business class on the same theme, In Search of the Perfect Prince.

The Shakespeare books reflect an even broader trend in business literature - seeking guidance from historical events or disasters that test the mettle of leaders. Viking, for instance, part of Penguin Putnam, is preparing to publish a management book next year called "The Shackleton Way," which explores the leadership skills and hiring strategies of the polar explorer Ernest Shackleton, whose expedition was trapped on drifting ice caps and survived for months on dwindling supplies and meals of seal blubber.

"It doesn't matter if the story is ancient or modern, the key thing is if it's gripping when leadership is on the line," said Michael Useem, a professor of management and director of the Center for Leadership and Change at the Wharton School and the author of "The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for Us All" (Times Books).

"You can talk about the 12 great qualities of leadership and two hours later the students may not remember what was on the list," Mr. Useem said. "You've got to draw people into a story."

For the last two years, for instance, Mr. Useem has led a two-week management seminar in the Himalayas, at the base camp of Mount Everest, that costs each participant about $4,500 and is essentially an on-the-scene exploration of the leadership lessons culled from an Everest climbing disaster in May 1996 that left five people dead. Jon Krakauer's first-person account, "Into Thin Air," is required reading, and another survivor, Sandy Hill, was a guest speaker.

Northrop's daylong Shakespeare seminar was considerably more sedate, although some executives were wincing as Mr. Adelman showed movie snippets of the Battle of Agincourt with Kenneth Branagh playing King Henry in grunting, hand-to-hand combat as blood and mud mingled in a relentless scene of French and English soldiers clawing, grappling and hacking one another. The English waited for attack, using long-bow assaults to thin the rain-soaked French cavalry, whose shiny armor weighed them and their horses down in the mud. Sharpened stakes placed by the English forced the French into a funnel that blocked their retreat.

"What are the leadership traits that Harry shows here?" Mr. Adelman asked after the house lights flickered back on.

George E. Pickett, vice president for marketing and business, raised his hand. "Henry doesn't show any exhaustion," he said. "I think a great characteristic of his leadership is that he pushes himself as hard as his men."

Perhaps that is why Mr. Roche was the first seminar participant to don a gilded crown and emote, to the polite laughter of other executives. He also played George Washington when his executives took a leadership field trip to Valley Forge. And he assumed the roles of George Meade, the Union general, and Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general, on trips to Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania.

This strategy of leadership training by role-playing is a matter of necessity, Mr. Roche acknowledged during a break in the Shakespeare seminar. In 1996, Northrop Grumman acquired Westinghouse Electric's military electronics and systems business, which ultimately became the division that Mr. Roche now leads.

The company went through a long period of consolidation after the cold war ended. With the collapse in business, Mr. Roche said, a wide age gap developed between older executives who stayed and younger people hired more recently.

The battlefield tours and the Shakespeare crash course are part of a grander strategy to raise a new generation of executives to think more creatively and nimbly, Mr. Roche said. "It does feel like we're in a war," he said. "Remember, we're the little guy in the industry. And our strategy is to teach all our executives to think like chief executives."

The training sessions, Mr. Roche and other Northrop executives said, also helped to build cohesion among executives merged together by the Westinghouse acquisition. They acknowledged, though, that some participants were a little wary at first about what they were supposed to learn from ancient events.

When Northrop was vying earlier this year with the No. 3 military contractor, Raytheon, for a $1 billion contract to build a new radar system for the Navy's top fighter jet, the company informally nicknamed its effort Project Agincourt. For the Shakespeare-challenged, it also provided a Star Trek variation, referring to itself as the Federation and Raytheon as the Romulans.

Shortly after the Shakespeare seminar, however, Raytheon won the contract. Even so, some Northrop executives, like C. Lloyd Carpenter, the vice president for international operations in Mr. Roche's division, have since found themselves pondering what King Henry would do.

"Flying back from Europe, Harry came to mind," Mr. Carpenter said. "I found myself running through a mental checklist which turns out to be a combination of things derived from Henry V and the many battlefield staff rides we have taken."

What was the lesson? "Harry's placement of the sharpened stakes," Mr. Carpenter said, noting that the tactic "forced his competitor into a funnel-shaped area which caused their strength - mounted troops - to become gridlock and easy prey."