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Our First Meeting! Leadership

I am so happy to report that our meetings of The Breach at the Little Rock Vet Center have begun! Our first meeting was held July 18th and was a great success. The theme for this evening's meeting was leadership and we used selections from Shakespeare's Richard II and Henry V. Here are some things we discussed about leadership and these two very different characters.

In the military, leadership is defined as the process of influencing others to accomplish the mission by providing purpose, direction, and motivation. Simple enough right? Not quite, good leadership is supremely difficult stuff. With Richard and Henry, we have the opportunity to see two leaders that rise to occasion or fold under the weight. What are some lessons we can learn from these two characters?

Richard II is a play about a weak and ineffective leader. Shakespeare shows us a character that has been placed on the throne by birth, not merit. As a leader he is indecisive, petty and irrational. It is only when it is too late and Richard is overthrown and imprisoned that Richard realizes his folly and he understands the privilege of leadership.

In Henry V, on the other hand, we see a natural born leader who rises to his station. We actually first meet Henry in the Henry IV plays where he is an irresponsible teenager and struggling with the weight of his royal birth. However, one chief thing that sets Henry apart from Richard is decisiveness. Once he sets his mind to being King, Henry turns his back on his wayward pursuits and is all in without the slightest reservation. As we look at the famous St. Crispian speech we also see yet another key quality of Henry's leadership, his practice of leading from the front and creating a sense of esprit de corps among his troops. Richard directs, Henry leads.

In our modern interpretation, we could say Richard is a "boss," Henry is a leader. Richard believed himself to be divinely placed on the thrown and therefore better than his men. Conversely, Henry, while in charge and King, says to his men you are my brothers, WE are better together. Henry inspires and leads by influence, Richard's leadership depends on his authority, i.e. his rank. Finally, Henry is motivated by passion and purpose, Richard is motivated by fear and competition.

The moral of the story, be a leader not a boss. Inspire your team to reach new heights. When we act as a leader we place people before mission. We are compassionate and foster success even throughout our team's setbacks and failures.

That's it for today! I'm really looking forward to our next meeting of The Breach next month where we will be discussing loyalty. I hope to see you there!

Ben Grimes

Riverside Actors Theatre

Artistic Director

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