Facilitating a team retreat the other day and I shared, "The King has every right to leave the castle and head off into battle. But when they do, they put the kingdom at risk."
"That's cool Vince. What are you talking about?" the group asked.
Let's unpack this a bit. When I think of all the great stories of knights and castles and courts and ladies, there are always certain characters that show up. The King... The Warrior... The Lover... the Wizard... and what I've learned is that these characters (or archetypes) have a certain place in each of us right here right now. We each have an "Inner King" and an "Inner Warrior" and I believe it serves us well to get to know these parts.
So, when I think about the "King" in me (or the "Sovereign"), I am thinking about that part of me that holds, comforts, initiates, and decides things. That's what Kings do! I need my "Inner Sovereign" to be online and not get too caught up in the day to day grind of what's in front of me at this moment. I need my Inner King to hold the balance between protecting and expanding my life.
And so, going back into many of the ancient stories, when the King leaves the castle bad stuff happens. Evil wizards take over. Lovers swoop in and wreak havoc. Warriors raid and take their plunder. Things run amok.
"Okay. Keep going," they said. "And help us see what this has to do with our CEO?"
Think about the role of the CEO. The CEO's role is to initiate, decide, align with purpose, comfort and celebrate... in short... a lot like the sovereign of days gone by. But, before you go bowing and scraping to your CEO, let the metaphor just land on the governance role of the King... not the royal pomp bit.
Often, the CEO was the best damn Sales Manager this company ever knew. Or the best CFO. Or, the best COO back in the day. So, it is no surprise that the CEO might have something to say about those roles now. About how things should be done. But, the CEO's job is not to direct activity. It is to define outcomes. It's up to today's hot shot Sales Manager to figure out the way to hit the outcome. That's why he or she is the hot shot sales manager. If the CEO defines the activity for the hot shot, well, the hot shot likely isn't all that hot. He or she is just creating a dependency on the CEO... which drains energy and risks keeping the CEO from focusing on the more important issues of stewarding, protecting and advancing the broader work of the enterprise.
"Wow. We get it. But really, there will be no bowing to the CEO, correct?"