Eliminating What You Will

For me, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice provides an example of a modern leader. A person comfortable in the use of ‘soft’ or people skills whilst in command of ‘hard’ or technical skills associated with being in charge. Portia’s actions, insights, vision and determination to improve the lot of those in her circle mirror a business leader working for the interests of one’s stakeholders.

In the area of decision-making, she uses a technique of elimination to arrive at an understanding of her desired choice, providing us in the process with colourful descriptions of the various suitors. Knowing what we do not want is a way to be clear about what it is exactly we do wish for. Each elimination or rejection provides more information as a step closer to a chosen goal.

In a modern way, Portia empowers Lorenzo and Jessica to take responsibility by requesting them to watch over her estate during her absence. This provides the couple with timely practical experience for the moment wealth arrives in their hands.

Portia’s mentoring of Nerissa is clear throughout the early parts of the play. Nerissa’s eventual handling of Graziano indicates the lessons have been well taught and well learned. In Portia’s urging of Bassanio to take flight to Venice, despite only just being betrothed, she demonstrates her people knowledge. To avoid resentment and dissatisfaction creeping into a team, each person has to feel his or her own priorities are important to the leader.

Portia’s genuine interest in people and unquestionable sense of right and wrong lead her into a potentially embarrassing position for the sake of Bassanio’s friend Antonio. She understands the risks involved in going ahead with her deception in Venice, yet trusts her capabilities regarding the law.

Acting on her feet and seeing the ‘big picture’ may be added to her lists of leadership skills. Coupled with her fine brain and ability to implement strategies, she would surely make a strong candidate for most positions in today’s business world.

As activities involving people, drama and business can provide us with input for our daily interactions. Perhaps you have a favourite character from the world of drama who offers you ideas and input.

I’d love to hear from you regarding this or indeed anything else you may have read in these articles over the past months. In the meantime, ciao for now.



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