KING ARTHUR:THE FIRST PURPOSE-DRIVEN LEADER

Who remembers Camelot and its Knights of the Round Table?

These were the characters in the legend of King Arthur. These were the best knights in King Arthur’s kingdom. They lived in King Arthur’s castle, the famous Camelot.

Why were they were called the Knights of the Round Table? They sat at a special table in Camelot that was round instead of a typical rectangular table. The shape of the table was very significant. Most tables are rectangular, and have a place reserved for the “head of the table”. This is the narrow part at the top, where the leader usually sits. However, utilising this round table concept instead, meant that everyone who sat around it was deemed trustworthy and an equal.

Furthermore, in order to become a Knight of the Round Table, a knight had to prove they were chivalrous and trust worthy enough. The legend suggests that the knights swore to a Code of Chivalry. Much like a modern day oath, they promised to uphold the rules given to them once they became a Knight of the Round Table. They were all lead by a shared cause. They’re accomplishments were legendary.

(Source: Wikipedia).

Let’s break this down a little further and in modern day thinking…

They were his best knights, King Arthur’s “A Team”. At the table there was equality all around not authority from top down.

They were deemed trustworthy because they had proven themselves to be chivalrous. Basically, they earned that trust over time with chivalrous acts, not words. 

They promised to uphold the rules, a code or what could be considered as a unique set of values. They were all held equally to account to this code.

They were all there for the same reason. The things legends are made from…

Does your organisation have a round table or a rectangular table?

“Top down leadership is a thing of the past. All around leadership is the way forward”

– Dave Clare, Creator of the Circle of Organisational Leadership©

Top down organisational structures create what I call organisational dilution. At every level through the chain of command, the purpose and values get weaker and weaker as they are further removed from the “head of the table”…the leader.

When you move to a structure like the Circle of Organisational Leadership©, the purpose and values are at the centre of every team. Each team member has a direct line of sight to the purpose through the values. Everyone is accountable to them regardless of their position. Much like the Knights of the round table, empowered by a code of unique values and deemed equal and trustworthy because you earned your seat there. Something I like to call “trust, but verify”. Trust is earned through repetitive proven displays of living the values (Code of Chivalry).

For a decades I have lead teams and structured my own organisations using my Circle of Organisational Leadership© (C.o.O.L.). I now educate leaders on how to use it in their organisations to become purpose-driven. It makes me wonder if King Arthur may have been the first purpose-driven leader?

This thinking seems now to be what CEOs and CHROs are looking for according to leading analysts.

“The structure of organisations is under attack, changing the nature of work in companies. 92% of CHROs and CEOs tell us they believe their structure must change, and most are looking for ways to flatten hierarchy, make jobs more dynamic…”

– Josh Bersin, Founder & Principal at Bersin by Deloitte

Even Simon Sinek has popularised this organisational concept without even knowing it. Simon aptly tells us through his Golden Circle© that leaders start with why, then how and what. The Circle of Organisational Leadership© is exactly that. The WHY(customer-centric purpose) is at the centre, followed by the HOW (your unique values – how we think), leading to WHAT we do (the roles to achieve the goals).

As I have previously written, goals dictate structure, not the other way around. This is why organisational structure needs to change in an uncertain world. It needs to be dynamic, flexible and agile to meet rapidly changing market, consumer and technological changes.

Imagine an organisational structure that allows you to shift and change easily with the goals of the organisation? It is possible.

If you want to stop organisational dilution of your purpose and values, cultivate more leaders and increase employee engagement and empowerment, ask me how.

Dave Clare

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