Lessons from Henry V … Leadership Inspiration

Looking for inspiration in history (and movies …)

In a recent leadership course sponsored by my employer, we used The story of Henry V and the battle at Agincourt as a metaphor for leadership. I have watched this video of his speech to the troops every day since then and wanted to share it with you. It provides me with inspiration and hopefully some potential tools I can use to take my troops into battle every day: humility, decisive leadership, participative decision making, scenario planning, and clear articulation of vision and objectives are but a few reasons Henry V prevailed against overwhelming odds.

For a great synopsis on leadership lessons from this battle, read the article found on Knowledge@Wharton, from my alma mater. Enjoy the video clip and let me know what lessons you think are learned from his speech or the battle itself.

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.

But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.

No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,

But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day.

Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Be Well. Lead On.

Adam

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3 comments

  1. Magnificent speech. I clearly understand the motivation you receive from this video. I frequently look for inspiring leadership traits in movies. My favorite leadership movie is “Master and Commander: Far Side of the World” (2003). Interestingly enough, it takes that entire movie to express the same leadership and inspiration in the above Henry V’s five minute speech. I will save this to my tools of inspiration. Thank you greatly for this and your other tools & words of inspiration.

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