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What Are The Most Consulted And Trusted Texts In Management Development?

Go into a book store looking for answers to your management problems and look at the shelves under management or corporate training. You will find rows and rows of books.

What you will not notice are all the management texts that are not there! 


Those that are outdated or out of favour, or were passing wonders of wisdom but didn’t catch on because they didn’t work. They are not there…mostly all gone!

It is wisdom and human understanding and psychological insight that underlie all management theories and even economic and financial theories. This is simply because, at the root of it all are people doing, buying, selling, wanting, reacting, feeling, lusting, organising, etc. 

The history of the bookshop illustrates this: those writers who understand the fundamentals of humans the best are the ones that will last the longest.  

Those who are the proven and timeless best include:

  • Plato (mostly reflecting Socrates), whose wisdom on the nature of mankind still echoes from 2400 years ago, or
  • Sun Tzu’s ageless insights into dealing with competition (from around 2700 years ago)…to more recently, 
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau whose discourses in the late 1700’s on the “Social Contract” stirred revolutions and established the philosophy underpinning ideas of democratic government and social empowerment and industrial relations today.


However, if there is one management writer from the past who has…

  • The broadest readership and 
  • The most voluminous works
  • And will be found even in the smallest libraries of the world, (not just specialist management libraries) and 
  • Whose wisdom and insights have stirred and inspired for over 400 years,

it would be…William Shakespeare.

A portrait of William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare, whose work has lasted so many years, tells you about successful management.
Shakespeare – Management Theories: Team Building, Management, Shakespeare. Credit: GDJ

Consider, the value of confidence in modern life and business, and Bard’s words:

Our doubts are traitors, And make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt” (Measure for Measure)

Pinned it! Got to the core of the issue in less than a sentence!

Let’s try a more complicated issue:

How do you get your mind around the person in the office who always seems discontent and complaining about their lot? 

Maybe Caesar’s comments about Cassius were as close hundreds of years ago through Shakespeare’s pen as they would be relevant today

Such men as he be never at heart’s ease whiles they behold a greater than themselves.” Julius Caesar.

I could quote Shakespeare’s wisdom and insights forever, every page of Shakespeare boils with insights into the nature of humans and their interactions and also of management and business.

The best management understandings come from writers who last the distance, and…Shakespeare has lasted!


There’s great timeless value in consulting Shakespeare if you want modern insights into people and management theory!

Old books and a magnifying glass sit on the table.
Shakespeare’s work is full of management hints for your businesses.
Magnifying Glass And Books – Management Theories: Team Building, Management, Shakespeare. Credit: AlexLeigh7

Next time you see a volume of Shakespeare on a shelf, pluck it down and within a few pages, of any of his works, poems or plays, you will find something stimulating and insightful for you today. Try it someday…or be modern and google “Shakespeare” and engage with him now!  

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