round-table

What could we learn about virtue, honour and leadership if we looked to the founder of The Round Table as an example of practical and chivalrous action in the modern world?

Arthurian literature is filled with rich metaphors regarding the nature of ethics, honour and humanity. Embodying the ideals of bravery, courtesy and loyalty, King Arthur is perhaps the most influential secular role model in Western philosophy.

  • Leadership beside each other
  • Collaborative conversations
  • Equal standing at the table and court, common ground
  • See and be seen easier than at a long table, the king is not elevated on a dais above his knights, they were face to face, no one hiding behind another
  • A table where everyone’s ideas were important, debated and judged equally on their merit – not based on who they came from.
  • Get synergy/energy from each other
  • Code of Chivalry

The leader sets the example by setting aside the trappings of leadership and setting the stage for collaboration.  Engage the heart. Be tough and take the hit when it would be easier to fudge and slide by. Be chivalrous, bold and stand for what’s right.

Arthur’s table was a significant innovation: Rather than issue proclamations from the end of a long table, a round shape brought him closer to his court and facilitated collaboration. Arthur’s table also allowed him to easily call on his knights’ particular expertise at the precise moment he wanted it.

Collaboration

King Arthur used a Round Table where each Knight could engage anyone in conversation. This simple change sent a strong message. We are all equals at this table. Like Arthur, today’s successful leaders understand that communication and collaboration must be fostered and that the decision-making process must be opened to anyone who can offer insight and wisdom. “None of us is as smart as all of us”. Ken Blanchard.  No one ever succeeds alone.

Round table leadership is creative, motivating and engaging. Building broad buy-in, engenders a sense of team work that excites constituents both internally and externally. Of course, someone has to ultimately make a decision, but the round table style leader has involved his team so it has become “our decision” and a shared goal.

Training and mastery of skills

The serious games of today need to focus on a different set of skills from King Arthur’s time, but they involve skills that are no less critical: leadership, negotiation, team work, confronting problems, public speaking, improvisation, persuasion, decision making with incomplete information, and remaining calm under pressure. 1 Chronicles 12:2 David’s mighty men they were armed with bows and were able to shoot arrows or to sling stones right-handed or left-handed.

Round Table leadership says:

  • I’m going to surround myself with the best and the brightest and we’re going to make a big difference – together.
  • I’m going to recruit those that are strong where I’m weak so that together we’re positioned to take on any challenge.
  • We’re going to discuss ideas and solutions not worry about org charts.

Sources

  • King Arthur’s Round Table: How Collaborative Conversations Create Smart Organizations by David Perkins
  • Leadership Lessons From King Arthur by Mike Brokloff FACHE
  • The CEO and the Holy Grail: What King Arthur Can Teach Us About Training Leaders by: Stephen Balzac
  • Leadership Secrets: From The Round Table For The Multi-Site by Joclyn Kostner
  • 12 Rules of the Knights of the Round Table by Ashlin Shuttlesworth
  • The Round Table as a Leadership Style – King Arthur was on to something by Nicole S. McWhorter

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