“For when lenity and cruelty play for a kingdom, the gentler gamester is the soonest winner”. Shakespeare, Henry V act 3 scene 7
Henry V is without doubt my favorite Shakespeare play. It has been used for many years in workshops and seminars on leadership, because of its deep insights into, not only the evolution and development of Henry as a leader, but his common-sense approach to facing difficult situations and motivating his troops by his example. This quote translates beautifully to leadership development in the 21st century. Here’s what it means to me. Cruelty, in this context would be a leader who is solely bottom-line driven and all her interactions with her people are purely transactional and uncaring. Lenity, on the other hand, describes the leader, who while being demanding, as Henry had to be, cares about the people who look to her for leadership. She takes the relationship beyond the transactional to create a human link. The former delivers threshold behavior without engagement. The latter, is what inspires people, rouses a passion in them, and fuels a strong sense of engagement. Henry led his troops on the battlefield of Agincourt to one of the most celebrated military victories in history, against tremendous odds. Just think what you might be able to do by applying a little of Henry’s wisdom to what you need to do today.
Good luck on your journey!