Psychology Today: Here To Help


Norman Augustine and Kenneth Adelman
New York: Hyperion Books, 1999
ISBN 0-7868-6601-2

Norman Augustine was CEO of Martin Marietta, Chairman of Lockheed Martin Corporation and served on the Boards of Procter & Gamble, Black & Decker, and Phillips Petroleum. Kenneth Adelman is former ambassador to the U.N. and U.S. Arms Control Director. These savvy and practical leaders use this small, clever book for a discourse on the nature of leadership. The platform they use is that keen observer of human natureWilliam Shakespeare.

The use of The Bard as a platform is clever at two levels. Many of us know Shakespeares characters. But we only know them in the context of our own vision. Looking at the same characters through two different and highly perceptive sets of eyes is both educational and entertaining. For example, Claudius is now perceived as an outstanding role model for leadership during times of crisis rather than a supreme villain who kills his brother. Shylock presents the example of someone who lets emotion get in the way of solid business judgment and over-reaches.

There is a second level where the selection of Shakespeare as a platform is both clever and useful.

Most modern books on management are often simplistic in content and often do not deal with the complexities of human nature. Shakespeares characters, by contrast, are complex, contradictory, and fascinating. Yes, Claudius is the very model of a crisis management leader. He is a very sympathetic, guilt-ridden figure. And he also is a murderer. In the play Hamlet, the public is said to adore the hero. Hamlet punishes the guilty at the end of the play. To get to this point, however, he also kills the innocent. And he kills them without remorse. How many leaders do you know where there is a chasm between public image and private conduct?

The authors are not content to focus on Shakespeare. At every turn, they show how their concepts are illustrated by leaders of modern enterprises, large and small.

Ken Adelman now teaches Shakespeare on management in Washington, D.C. I wish I could audit his course! 

Laurence J. Stybel,Ed.D.