Leader Resource Spotlight:
Scott Farrell analyzes the Chivalry Today website and its applications for leaders.
Chivalry Today and Leadership
In exploring the "Leadership Secrets of the Code of Chivalry," we have to move away from the myth that chivalry is all about manners and gentlemanly etiquette. Chivalry - real chivalry - is a warrior's code of honor. Chivalry provides guidelines for ethical competition in a real-world environment. Chivalry reminds us that competitiveness and determination are necessary parts of the role of a leader - but also that those qualities should never outstrip our sense of responsibility and integrity. If we don't respect our rivals and the rules we all play by, we will wind up without respect for ourselves. The Chivalry Today website offers a variety of resources to help leaders in all fields - business primarily, but also sports, politics and education - realize the crucial role they play in keeping their teams strong and focused on their goals.
In recent years, too many leaders have come to admire a leadership model that I refer to as "the business barbarian." Books and seminars draw parallels between historical figures like Attila the Hun or Genghis Khan and modern executives and say, "This is an effective role model to use when leading others." Sadly, no one really considers the ramifications of these parallels - these barbarian "leaders" were savage, brutal and predatory. The result of this is that we've come to believe you can't be competitive and ethical at the same time, and that is just not true.
Ironically, the image of the knight is a much better metaphor for the successful leader: knights were responsible, accountable members of a complex competitive team that is called "the feudal hierarchy." There was a chain of command that ran from the peasants in the field to the King himself, and knights had some important roles to play in that chain - they couldn't just go rampaging across the countryside, looting and pillaging (like the barbarians) and calling it "success." Responsibility and principled behavior are necessary components in any leadership environment where a team is going to work together with trust and focus. Our "Leadership Secrets of the Code of Chivalry" seminars are designed to foster an atmosphere of unity and cooperation - not selfishness and brutality. We teach leaders to be noble knights who lead armies into battle, not barbarians in business suits who merely prey on the weak and defenseless.
Leadership Secrets of the Code of Chivalry
Looking back into the writing of real knights of the 13th and 14th centuries, we see some universal principles that can be applied today as the "Leadership Secrets of the Code of Chivalry":
Seek out strong competitors, not feeble, easily defeated adversaries. In the long term, you'll find that you will come to resemble the people and organizations you compete with.
When you go into battle, always fight fair. You may win a battle by cheating, but playing by the rules will always make you a stronger competitor.
Have the courage to surround yourself with bold warriors, not subservient supporters. Allies who will point out your flaws and weaknesses are of much greater value than people who will never question your directions.
Remember that no battle is an end unto itself, and that when you step over the line into unprincipled, unethical or disreputable behavior, you can't step back. The code of honor, such as the Code of Chivalry, isn't meant to protect our enemies in battle - it's meant to protect us by helping us see that when the war is over we must still have our sense of honor and self respect. Without chivalry in battle, in business or in any kind of competition, a warrior may find no way home from the war.
Much more information is available for leaders at the Chivalry Today website: www.chivalrytoday.com. Click here and go directly to the website for Chivalry Today (opened in a separate window).
About the Leader Resource Spotlight: the Leader Network offers the Leader Resource Spotlight feature as a forum to highlight resources and opportunities that exist for leaders.