An Excerpt from the Introduction
What lessons about management and leadership can an ancient king and court bring to us in the 21st century? Can the trials and tribulations of people so removed from us in time and custom truly be relevant in modern corporations, organizations, or governments?
If one thinks of texts and stories even more ancient than those of King Arthur, the answer is obvious. People continue to draw important meaning from the stone tablets, scrolls, and books of the past. Indeed, there are many for whom ancient ways and teachings enhance their well-being and guide their daily lives. The Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote (before the time of Arthur, in the second century), “If you have seen the present then you have seen everything—as it has been since the beginning, as it will be forever.”
So it is with the stories of King Arthur. Life’s lessons during the time of Camelot and the Round Table remain relevant because, at the core, they are about the human relationships that connect us, divide us, and drive us forward (or backward) in our various dealings—personal, business, or otherwise. Looking at the past, we can gain the accumulated wisdom from so many people, conflicts, and circumstances. Those enduring qualities and complexities of human nature, told and retold in story, song, and scripture, have given us guidance and assurance in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
In Camelot, Inc. we glean management and leadership insights from Arthur’s evolution from the awkward and out-of-place squire derisively called the Wart to impatient student to compassionate king to tired ruler. We’ll start at a time when Arthur found a mentor (rather, when the mentor found him) and observe how he learned, how he developed his leadership philosophy and his vehicle for communications, what it took to excel, how he created a vision and mission, and then how a failure to confront issues led to his decline.
It’s not just that these royal life-cycle transitions so closely track the rise and fall of modern managers and leaders. Arthur will help us to deal with some of today’s most pressing leadership issues: knowledge retention, developing coherent plans and proposals, building internal and external advocacy, communicating and negotiating, team building, maintaining ethical standards, innovating, ensuring flexibility, moving from vision to execution, and succession planning.
Much of what we hear and what we come to accept as fact or truth has been termed “conventional wisdom.” Here, we have Camelot Wisdom. Camelot, Inc. will not be a history lesson, but I will use history to illustrate the dos and don’ts critical to our success as learners and leaders.
Camelot, Inc., Praeger Publishers. Available February 15, 2011. Please visit www.camelotinc.com for more information.