Courageous leadership

Lessons from Shakespeare’s Macbeth

PROGRAMME OUTLINE

Shakespeare’s greatest psychological thriller provides fascinating insights into the behaviours that can make or break individuals and organisations. This programme explores courageous leadership through two very different leaders: Malcolm and Macbeth.

Most of us know Macbeth. His descent from fearless warrior to ruthless tyrant is a compelling tale of high achievement turning to tragedy. We use Macbeth to examine shadow leadership potentials. We learn how to identify excessive and dangerous behaviours – both in ourselves and others - before derailment becomes inevitable.

Not so many of us know about Malcolm. His journey is less publicised but more successful. Through his character we explore the development of quiet, courageous leadership. Malcolm’s example proves that we can become generative leaders, creating meaning for the groups we lead and hope for our collective future.

Participants are introduced to key learnings from the story and choose the challenges they wish to explore further. These, typically, are drawn from the following:

ACT 1 – Ambition and Expectation

  • Distinguishing driven, repressed and appropriate Ambition
  • Managing expectation – identifying the voices that support and undermine us

ACT 2 – Managing Inflation in Leadership

  • Identifying leadership gifts and derailers
  • Dealing with power - the pros and cons of ‘fame’
  • ‘Warrior’ exercise - exploring positive and negative potentials

ACT 3 – Responses to ‘Tyranny’

  • Recognising complicit behaviours
  • Strategies for dealing with ‘tyranny’

ACT 4 – Developing Quiet Leaders

  • Recognising how and when to pick your battles
  • Engendering trust and commitment
  • Creating space for integrity and authenticity

ACT 5 – Stewardship

  • Stepping into generativity
  • Three ways to wholeness

An Explanation of Programme Content:

One-day programme

An experiential introduction to the subject. Participants consider the leadership challenges embedded in the play and ask questions about the issues that hold most relevance for them.

We then travel back through the journey of the play addressing these questions with input and appropriate discussion. Two experiential exercises serve to deepen participants understanding of courageous leadership. The morning exercise explores the character of Macbeth; the shadow potentials of the Warrior archetype and the dangers of unbounded goal setting. In the afternoon exercise, participants experience the essence of Malcolm’s success; building trust, serving a greater good and surrendering unnecessary control. The day ends with reflection and action planning to enable each participant to leave with a clear sense of what they need to do to apply their learning in the workplace.

Two-day programme

(with a tutor/delegate ratio of 1:6 – recommended numbers 12-36)

Recommended as a forum to enhance a team’s effectiveness. A fuller and more bespoke immersion into the essentials of courageous leadership. This in depth workshop includes all of the material covered in a one-day programme.

Additionally, staffs and senior teams use the story as a medium through which to explore current situations and future initiatives. Popular themes include; “Do we collectively have the right Ambition?”, “Are people experiencing our leadership as closer to ‘Macbeth’ or ‘Malcolm’?”, “What might derail us?” and “How can we be more effective Stewards in the future?” Through the first day participants also identify an important leadership issue, based on a theme drawn from the play and informed by relevant input. On the second day we spend the morning working in small ‘breakthrough’ groups. Each leader explores their issue appropriately in conjunction with an experienced coach/facilitator to rehearse and find the most effective solution. On the second afternoon leaders distinguish core values, identifying what they are best able to stand for and stand against. Before they leave participants have the opportunity to declare their future intentions as stewards and leaders of courage.

Half-day Taster Workshops and Conference Keynote Presentations

Edited versions of the Courageous Leadership material can be offered in shorter time frames as a fascinating introduction to the themes outlined above.