Shakespeare's leadership tips for aiding GPs

Last year I was lucky enough to attend a leadership course about King Henry V and inspirational leadership.

A company named Olivier Mythodrama (founded by Sir Laurence Olivier's son Richard) ran the course.

The company also publishes a book written by Richard Oliver called Inspirational Leadership: Henry V and the Muse of Fire which I would highly recommend to anyone, regardless of whether they have been on the course.

However, in my case doing the course did lead me to read the book. I was never a great fan of Shakespeare and suffered through two years of Macbeth at O level. I had seen a film version of Henry V and was puzzled by how a day could be based on it.

Defeat into victory
The trainer started by running through the play, discussing the main plot and themes. In a little over an hour I had a much deeper understanding.

The play follows Henry V from his beginnings through ups and downs to the night before the Battle of Agincourt, when defeat looks certain, and then on to the amazing victory.

Critics and training
Each act is relevant to any GP aspiring to lead a team or moving to a senior position.

On the day we only had time to go through a couple of sections in detail. There was a bit of role-playing in the afternoon. Unsurprisingly, one of my consultant surgeon colleagues was shown to be rabidly competitive, but it was good fun.

The book covers the whole play and has information on the theory. For example, in Act 2, Henry has to deal with traitors. It discusses the difference between critics and traitors and splits them into types; 'naysayers', overt critics, covert critics and true traitors.

Identify leaders
Without spoiling the book, a covert critic is secretly trying to stop a project because they do not like change while a traitor is trying to get rid of you.

Also covered are key leadership types: the good king, the great mother, the medicine woman and the warrior. Most leaders are experts in one or two of these roles. The book is a fascinating read even if its just to look at a Shakespeare play in a different way.

Reader offer

GPs can buy 'Inspirational Leadership: Henry V and the Muse of Fire' at the discount price of £9 (full price £11) plus postage and packing.

Contact or (020) 7386 7972 and quote 'GP Reader Offer'.

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