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Jacquie Molloy guides senior leaders to develop and display leadership authority (what she calls Authoritas); helps Boards to discover the power (and imperative) of exploring differences of opinion through Debate; and shares the practices for personal authority, high-performing teams and cultural excellence with individuals and organisations so they can be Visible in all the right ways.

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Wednesday
Sep042019

Leadership & split identities 

In the plays about Henry IV, like so many of his histories and tragedies, Shakespeare concerns himself with what happens when someone seizes power illegally or immorally. And, as always, it’s instructive.

In Henry IV Part 1, Shakespeare lets us understand Henry’s internal conflict that comes after the adrenalin rush of a successful takeover and the ‘getting rid’ of Richard II.

Henry tries to just snap himself out of this conflict. And we’re all familiar with this ‘I’m over it’ attempt to change something — about ourselves or our circumstances — by sheer grit and will power and determination.

White-knuckling is difficult to sustain though — and that’s if it even gets off the ground.  

He says: from now on, I’m going to be my royal self again. I’m getting back in the game! I’ll be mighty and powerful. I’ve been too soft lately and that weakness has cost me. It’s lost me the respect of powerful people who only respect you when you are as powerful – or more powerful - than they are.

I will from henceforth rather be myself,

Mighty and to be feared, than my condition,

Which hath been smooth as oil, soft as young down,

And therefore lost that title of respect

Which the proud soul ne'er pays but to the proud.

Henry believes that being ‘soft’ gets a king no ‘respect’. 

But through his subsequent behaviour and actions it becomes clear that he’s not at all comfortable, or reconciled, with the manner in which he got the crown and won England.

Sure he brags about being a winner: nothing can seem foul to those that win.

But his guilt and ‘split identity’ ironically render him incapable of making the most out of the position for which he committed the immoral action.

It’s hard for us to keep split behaviour/beliefs up when we can not reconcile our outward show of confidence and our internal second-guessing/imposter syndrome/low-level anxiety.

David Whyte, poet & organisational thinker, says — I’m paraphrasing — that we’re so afraid of losing face and think we have it all under control but if we ask someone who reports to us what our greatest flaw is they’d be able to tell us immediately.

We are seen.

And when we are leaders, we are not only visible, but always modelling to others. That’s part of the role. That’s part of the responsibility.

Come back to the central Authoritas question always: who will you allow yourself to be?

Main | What do you need to do? »

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