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Shakespeare on Leadership

Charismatic Leadership In Henry V

Practice Commitment Examples From The Play     Parentheses Note Act and Scene (3.1)
Challenge The Status Quo
  • Search out challenging opportunities for change, growth, innovation, and improvement.

  • Experiment & take risks.

(1.2) Henry makes it clear that his youthful play is over and he intends to take up the challenge of the French Dauphin. The high risks from this course of action are also brought out.

Inspire A Vision
  • Envision an uplifting future.

  • Enlist others through appeals to values, interests, hopes, and dreams.

(3.1) Henry leads the charge at Harfleur.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
...And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.

(4.3) Just before the battle at Agincourt, Henry paints a picture of the future for his men. (See St. Crispin's Day Speech)

(4.3) After his "Band of Brothers" speech, Henry commends his officers and then speaks to the French Herald:

All things are ready, if our minds be so

Let me speak proudly: tell the constable
We are but warriors for the working-day;
Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirch'd
With rainy marching in the painful field;
And time hath worn us into slovenry:
But, by the mass, our hearts are in the trim;

Establish Shared Values

  • Verbalize organizational and personal values that bind together the organization and the leader.

  • Appeal to the nobler aspects of human nature.

(2.2) Henry establishes that only those whose hearts are with him need come on the venture.

We carry not a heart with us from hence
That grows not in a fair consent with ours,
Nor leave not one behind that doth not wish
Success and conquest to attend on us.

(4.3) Before Agincourt, Bedford says of Henry:

He is full of valour as of kindness;
Princely in both.

(4.3) In the "Band of Brothers" speech, Henry establishes shared values of family, honor, bravery and heroism. (See speech below)

Enable Others To Act
  • Promote cooperative goals and build trust.

  • Strengthen people by giving power away, providing choice, developing competence, and offering support.

  • Ensure that people are technically competent through training and experience.

(1.2) Henry orders preparation for the venture in France.

...Therefore, my lords, omit no happy hour
That may give furtherance to our expedition;
For we have now no thought in us but France,
Save those to God, that run before our business.
Therefore let our proportions for these wars
Be soon collected and all things thought upon
That may with reasonable swiftness add
More feathers to our wings...

(4.3) After the "Band of Brothers" speech, Henry shows confidence in his men:

You know your places: God be with you all!

(4.3) York, the youngest of Henry's nobles asks to lead the attack. Henry says:

Take it, brave York. Now, soldiers, march away:
And how thou pleasest, God, dispose the day!

Model The Way
  • Set the example through behavior that reflects shared values.

(3.1) Henry leads the charge at Harfleur.

(3.6) The French challenge Henry's sick and small band at Agincourt.

We would not seek a battle, as we are;
Nor, as we are, we say we will not shun it:

(4.0) Our Narrator tells of Henry visiting his troops on the eve of Agincourt:

The royal captain of this ruin'd band
Walking from watch to watch, from tent to tent,
...forth he goes and visits all his host.
Bids them good morrow with a modest smile
And calls them brothers, friends and countrymen.
Upon his royal face there is no note
How dread an army hath enrounded him;
Nor doth he dedicate one jot of colour
Unto the weary and all-watched night,
But freshly looks and over-bears attaint
With cheerful semblance and sweet majesty;
That every wretch, pining and pale before,
Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks:
A largess universal like the sun
His liberal eye doth give to every one,
Thawing cold fear, that mean and gentle all,
Behold, as may unworthiness define,
A little touch of Harry in the night.

Encourage The Heart
  • Use intrinsic rewards to honor those who have served well.

(4.7) The Welsh Captain, Fluellen, speaks with Henry after Agincourt. The Welsh are below the English in status. Henry establishes a bond between them.


I do believe your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek
upon Saint Tavy's day.

I wear it for a memorable honour;
For I am Welsh, you know, good my countryman.

All the water in Wye cannot wash your majesty's
Welsh blood out of your body, I can tell you that:
God bless it and preserve it, as long as it pleases
his grace, and his majesty too!

Thanks, good my countryman.

By Jeshu, I am your majesty's countryman, I care not
who know it; I will confess it to all the world: I
need not to be ashamed of your majesty, praised be
God, so long as your majesty is an honest man.

God keep me so!

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