King Lear and Succession Planning

King Lear and Succession Planning

In Shakespeare’s King Lear the king has decided to ‘retire’  and divide up his kingdom into three parts to give to his daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. He asks each daughter in turn to give an ‘acceptance speech’. Both Goneril and Regan flatter the king in a highly hypocritical manner. In reality, they are secretly plotting to exile the old king as soon as they get the power to do so. Cordelia sees through their flattery and decides to be sincere. She tells the king that she cannot “love him more than anything else in the world” because she intends to marry and naturally, her husband will also be the object of her affections. Lear is furious with Cordelia and disinherits her at once. Kent, a loyal advisor to the king, tries to reason with Lear. But the king will not listen.

In our sketch, Mr. Lear is the vain CEO of a company who hates criticism. Regan and Goneril are two possible successors who have no intention of keeping the company. They want to become major shareholders in order to be able to sell it. Cordelia, on the other hand, wants to improve and revamp the company. She outlines her plans, but the vain Mr. Lear is furious because she does not flatter him. Kent advices the King to listen to Cordelia’s plan, in the end he does because she has company* ……… and their talents as expert* …… on her side. And so our King Lear ends happily.

*We can adapt this sketch to any company who provides any service.

Sample extract from Shakespeare in Business training
to be acted out by training participants

Kent

Sir, I beg you to re-think. Cordelia will make an excellent ruler,…. she is…

Lear

Silence! I make the decisions around here.

A group of conusltants from company x arrive

Consultants
STOP!

Lear

Who are you? What are you doing here?

Consultant 1
We are here to offer advice to your highness….. but you are the king here and of course you are in charge, you don’t have to listen if you don’t want to.

Lear

(To Kent) Did you call these people in?

Kent

They come highly recommended sir. They are from the  XX Group. Very experienced in succession planning.

Lear

What can they tell me about my business?

Consultant 2

Sir, (pointing to the three possible successors) Here we see your ‘high potentials’, yes?

Consultant 3

Do you have specific goals?

Lear

Of course.

Consultant 4

We are here to evaluate your talent pool against your specific goal…

Consultant 5

Provide coaching & mentoring….

Consultant 6

It’s not enough to have the right people in the right jobs…

Consultant 1

You must ensure you have leaders for the future…

Consultant 2

They need incentives…..

Consultant 3

We can set the remuneration strategy…

Consultant 4

Provide the right reward system…

Lear

I am giving them my kingdom!

Consultant 5

We can talk to your compensation committee…

Consultant 1

We help organizations work: we transform strategy into reality…

Consultant 2

So…you can relax and let us advise you on succession planning…

Consultant 3
We are the experts…

Consultant 4
What do you say?

Goneril and Regan

Father don’t listen.

Consultant 5

We will take all the data…

Consultant 6

And come up with the perfect successor…

Kent

Your highness, please listen to them, they are experts.

Consultant 1

This could get you onto Fortune’s list of The World’s Most Admired Companies!