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5 Leadership Lessons From Mary Stuart & Queen Elizabeth I


The dynamics of leadership is often guided by history, paranoia, and intrigue. Sometimes, leadership is about ideal pragmatism, sometimes it’s about sheer Machiavellianism and the struggle to fight, scratch, and claw your way to the top. In history no greater example of this may be found than the struggle between Mary Stuart and Queen Elizabeth I of England. Today, their battle is staged in corporate boardrooms everywhere.

This past week I had the chance to see Mary Stuart on Broadway and I was once again reminded of the powerful lessons of history.

What are some of the lessons we can learn from the dispute between Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I?

1. Do not underestimate the persistence of your opponent…

2. Remember, sometimes people never forget a grudge.

3. Machiavellianism is gender free.

4. The line between paranoia and leadership is very thin.

5. Sometimes non-decisions are the best decisions.

When you study leadership nothing is better than looking towards history for valuable lessons. Sometimes, examining historical figures, especially in a dramaturgical context, is a wonderful way of reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of different leadership styles. Go see Mary Stuart (either on Broadway or read Schiller’s play) and ask yourself what lessons you can learn, good or bad.



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