Wisdom from will: the bard takes the measure of the board.

Author:Kaback, Hoffer

In the spirit of this special edition of DIRECTORS & BOARDS, I set before you observations from the works of William Shakespeare. They are about attitudes, judgments, insights, values, and other traits and knowledge the possession of which is critical to superior boardroom performance.


Action is eloquence. -Coriolanus, Act III, scene ii.

If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes' palaces. -The Merchant of Venice, Act I, scene ii.

'Tis well said again, and 'tis a kind of good deed to say well. And yet words are no deeds. - Henry VIII, Act III, scene ii.

Priests pray for enemies, but princes kill. - Henry VI, Part Two, Act V, scene ii.

Being decisive and resolute; not dawdling

A little fire is quickly trodden out; Which, being suffer'd, rivers cannot quench. -Henry VI, Part Three, Act IV, scene viii.

Let's lack no discipline, make no delay; for, lords, tomorrow is a busy day. -Richard III, Act V, scene iii.

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt. - Measure for Measure, Act I, scene iv.


Wisely and slow, they stumble that run fast. - Romeo and Juliet, Act II, scene iii.

Modest doubt is call'd the beacon of the wise, the tent that searches to the bottom of the worst. - Troilus and Cressida, Act II, scene ii.

Deceit; outward show

Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep; and in his simple show he harbours treason. The fox barks not when he would steal the lamb. - Henry VI, Part Two, Act III, scene i.

False face must hide what the false heart doth know. - Macbeth, Act I, scene vii.

Opinion's but a fool that makes us scan the outward habit for the inward man.

-Pericles, Act II, scene ii.

Pandering to popular opinion

You have too much respect upon the world: They lose it that do buy it with much care. - The Merchant of Venice, Act I, scene i.

Overpromising and underdelivering

Your words and performance are no kin together. - Othello, Act IV, scene ii/

His promises fly so beyond his state that what he speaks is all in debt, he owes for every word. -Timon of Athens, Act I, scene ii.

Vowing more than the perfection of ten, and discharging less than the tenth part of one. -Troilus and Cressida, Act III, scene ii.

Evaluating acquisitions

To things of sale a seller's praise belongs. - Love's Labour's Lost, Act IV, scene iii.

Resting on past laurels

Glory is...

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