Henry V and Leadership

The Chroniclers suggest that at Agincourt Henry V either grabbed his sword and shouted “follow me lads” or he gave an inspiring speech. As a writer, Shakespeare naturally chose the latter.

This is one of the most inspiring leadership speeches there is. It is worth analysing how Henry ensures all his team are committed, how he emphasises the team rather that the heroic leader, and how he uses a vision of the future to influence the present.

Worth 10 minutes to watch and think.


Happy St Crispin’s Day – and Leadership Lessons

Happy St Crispin’s Day!

Probably the most famous event on the 25th October was the Battle of Agincourt. This is the speech that Shakespeare gave to Henry V before the battle. Great culture, and an even better demonstration of effective leadership. And surprisingly modern in selling a vision of what it will be like having won – not the immediate euphoria, but looking back and showing their scars with pride. Meanwhile those safe at home will think less of themselves.

I also spotted making limited resources a virtue, the “all in it together” appeal (peasant or king), and the appeal to the select nature of the group. How many techniques can you pick out?

The other battle on 25th October was that of Balaclava, best known for the Charge of the Light Brigade. The lessons from this?

1. Clear communication, so that subordinates know what they are expected to do (and do not charge up the wrong valley)

2. The virtue of doing the unexpected. The Brigade managed to capture the Russian guns they thought were their target, partly because the Russians could not quite believe it.

3. The importance of resources. If the Brigade had been reinforced where they were, the battle would have been different. Their losses largely occurred because they had to retreat from the valley, under fire from Russian batteries.

There is a third battle on this day, that of Leyte Gulf in 1944. No, nor me, but it was apparently the biggest naval battle ever.

Have a peaceful day.