Knowledge Center: Event

Asia Pacific

Shakespeare's mind for the future Event Series

January 9, 2017

With the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death in 2016, Heidrick & Struggles decided to examine the similarities of his times with our own as well as the Bard’s insights into leadership.

Shakespeare was at his best when analyzing leaders. This was a dangerous occupation in Elizabethan England—a time of religious strife and political upheaval—but he followed a risk-mitigation strategy. He placed the leadership issues of the day into distant historical settings—much to the delight of the common people, who were fully aware of the real target of his work. Ancient Rome served as the setting for one of his most well-known plays, Julius Caesar. It contains lessons still relevant today on how to manage teams in times of disruptive change.

In November, Heidrick & Struggles hosted an event series in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore featuring an evening of discussion and performance, in partnership with Australian theater company Bell Shakespeare. Each event invited an audience of chairmen, directors, chief executives, and senior leaders to consider Caesar’s assassination through the prism of a boardroom coup. Five character profiles drawn from the play provided insights into board dynamics, with Caesar reinterpreted as a charismatic but arrogant chairman outmaneuvered by the members of his board.

These events allowed the presenters to successfully explore Shakespeare’s work as a way to understand dysfunction at the highest levels of leadership—a timeless business challenge.

This video showcases highlights from the event series.

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