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Apply Shakespeare’s wisdom to lead ex-peers

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in Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers,People Management

Shakespeare's wisdomRegardless of your position or job title, you’ll strengthen your leadership by acting with consistency. For your peers and employees to trust you, they need to see that you’re true to yourself and authentic at all times.

If you act one way while angling for a promotion—befriending as many people as you can and acting as if you’re their No. 1 fan—and then abandon them as soon as you’re the boss, you will lose their respect for good.

William Shakespeare understood this. In his two Henry IV plays as well as Henry V, he portrays the arc of Prince Hal’s behavior as an instructive lesson in misguided leadership.

At first, the young Prince Hal drinks alongside Falstaff and others. His frivolous love of parties does not indicate the makings of a future leader.

Then he ascends to the throne and changes his behavior. He turns on his friends and treats them with indifference.

In an effort to act like a king, he ignores his drinking buddies. They feel slighted by their former peer’s haughtiness. Their feelings hurt, they dismiss him and denigrate his leadership.

The story illustrates the perils of inconsistent leadership. While newly promoted managers often distance themselves from their comrades, they can still endear themselves to the team by behaving in a consistent manner and exhibiting the same personality traits.

Ideally, leaders should showcase the same characteristics at all times: honesty, integrity and an ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of people.

— Adapted from “7 Ways to Lead Friends and Former Peers,” David Dye, www.letsgrowleaders.com.

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