After having read this magnificent new book titled Going to WARk it is evident why the author does not wish to reveal their true identity. The harsh truths revealed in the book are a valuable lesson for young executives, a lesson that has to remain a discreet secret kept from the prying eyes of peers and management at work.
The author and I, had a long discussion about the book and some of the main arguments it presents and proves. The book reveals aspects of worK that resemble WAR, thus being called Going to WARk. It is a “must read” for all young wanna-be executives that want to achieve their executive status quickly, efficiently and with minimal issues faced.
One of the theories that the book develops and proves is that young executives aspiring for growth and for top hierarchical positions have a lot to learn from the traditional art of the courtier. Learning to think, behave and act like the courtiers of former monarchies can provide great insights and assistance for fast and efficient personal growth within the environment of a corporation or organization.
Let’s deep dive into some of the concepts in the book.
Courtship is usually referred to as the period of development towards an intimate relationship between a couple. This is not the case in this circumstance. The book deals with a different kind of courtship, namely the art of a courtier in the court of a monarch and the adaptation and use of the lessons learned from this art in the contemporary business environment. It may sound odd to some of us but there is a sound, truthful, useful and very valuable connection between courtiers and business executives that in the book is explained and exploited in order to help young executives achieve their goals.
The court of a monarch is the group of people who surround and attend to a monarch, including members of the royal family, nobles, high-ranking officials, and others who have been granted access to the monarch’s presence. The court usually serves ceremonial as well as practical purposes but the court also serves as an important center of political power, with courtiers often vying for the favor and attention of the monarch in order to gain influence and advance their own interests. That is where the connection with business lies.
Courtiers were involved in politics and diplomacy, and used their proximity to the monarch to gain influence and power. Doesn’t that sound the same with business executives trying to promote their own interests and grow within their professional environment? It does sound the same because it is!
In Going to WARk, a method for young executives to effectively position themselves within a hierarchical environment is described and explained This method stems from the practices of courtiers. Courtiers, during their time, developed their art to such a high level that we can only learn from them and admire their relevant skills. Most of the characteristics that need to be adopted by junior executives are the same to those of successful courtiers of the 16th and 17th centuries.
The board of directors is elected or appointed to govern the corporation or organization, something like the senat. The executive leadership team is composed of the top executives of the company and other high-level managers and has been appointed to implement the strategy and tactical direction set by the board of directors, making important decisions on company operations and performance. Both the board of directors and the executive leadership team under the CEO, serve as the highest level of decision-making authority within a company, much like a court in a monarchy. They also serve as a center of power within the organization, with other executives and employees vying for their favor and attention in order to advance their own interests and careers.
Even in a totalitarian regime the leader cannot run the organization on his own but only with the assistance of the court and a small number of highly trusted consultants. The existence of the consigliere who is the mafia bosses’ trusted consultant, as is mentioned in Going to WARk, is an example clearly depicting that even in organizations with supremely dominant leaders, leadership of the organization is never fully concentrated in the hands of a single person. Similarly, as in any army, the court of the boss would include key lieutenants and advisors who would be responsible for carrying out specific tasks and operations, as well as providing counsel and support to the boss and often act as intermediaries between the boss and the rest of the organization.
Intermediaries are key positions. Their main role is to indemnify the leader of direct operational responsibility and in some cases of ALL responsibility.
These matters often include strategy, operations and personnel issues. Also, this senior counselor is tasked with mediating disputes within the organization, and maintaining the loyalty and cohesion of the organization’s members. In large corporations, this is the work of Chief of Staff or Chief Advisor and is often depicted as being the work of a level-headed and wise figure, able to provide the boss with sound advice and counsel.
Their duties can vary. A Chief Advisor would be responsible for, providing strategic and operational advice, providing guidance on important decisions, business strategies, and operational matters, acting as a liaison with key stakeholders, providing insights, managing special projects, identifying potential risks and opportunities, developing strategies to mitigate risks and capitalize on opportunities, facilitating communication and decision-making, ensuring that the leader is well-informed of important issues and developments, providing guidance and mentorship to the next generation of leaders, helping to maintain the company culture promoting the company’s values and mission.
Α Chief of Staff would be responsible for, coordinating and managing the leader’s schedule, acting as a gatekeeper filtering and prioritizing information and requests, ensuring that the leader is focused, managing and leading the leader’s team, providing operational support managing budgets and resources, and implementing systems and processes, acting as a liaison with key stakeholders, conducting research and analysis, managing special projects, helping to maintain the company culture and promote the company’s values and mission, helping to create, implement and monitor policies and procedures and ensure the organization runs smoothly.
Both the Chief Advisor and Chief of Staff are key roles, successful courtiers in the court of the modern corporate leader who have already “arrived” at the top of their organizations.
They are excellent communicators, they attend to details and organize with full attention to the tiniest particuliarity. Their views are well researched beforehand and expressed at the proper time with the proper respect for those listening. Their analytical skills assist them in providing insights not just data. They never gossip! They are so discreet and trustworthy that even their enemies trust them to abide by policies and processes and keep information confidential. Their work ethics are unparalleled and they are self motivated and independent.
Obviously, the main characteristics of courtiers that are extremely valuable to contemporary young businessmen aspiring for personal growth include,
- Ambition and Motivation: Young executives aspiring to rise in the hierarchy and gain more power and influence are self-motivated and very resilient. The way to the top is difficult and requires patience, focus, stamina and resilience.
- Intelligence: Young executives are expected to be well-educated and well-informed, and to be able to provide their managers and leaders with sound advice and counsel. They are also expected to advance their know-how continually and proactively.
- Adaptability: A “wanna be” must be able to adapt to changing circumstances and navigate the ever-changing political landscape of the court. And the key word here is political. Many newcomers feel that internal politicking should be irrelevant but this is not the case, at all. Internal politicking is so important that the successful executive must excel in it.
- Discretion: Juniors, Seniors and Leaders must be privy, keep sensitive and confidential information to themselves, and maintain discretion and confidentiality at all times. As Stelexos-X has stated, “In the business environment, trust is the single common currency”.
- Charm and Poise: Successful young executives must be able to present themselves with charm and poise. This often seems difficult to many of them but can definitely be taught and developed.
- Loyalty: Young executives aspiring to rise in the hierarchy and gain more power and influence are expected to be loyal to the leader (the monarch) and the shareholder (the crown), and to always put their interests first. THE IMPORTANCE OF LOYALTY CANNOT BE OVERSTATED.
- Networking: Junior executives aspiring growth must develop and maintain relationships with peers and other members of the company, the organization, the management and the competition. Additionally, they must be able to network and build alliances.
- Diplomacy: Juniors, Seniors and Leaders must be involved in navigating through and along with the complex political dynamics of the environment, and must be able to handle delicate situations with tact and diplomacy.
In business, corporate structures and positions share a large number of similarities with the court system. The same stands in politics.
A company’s Board of Directors is similar to the court of a monarch, as they are responsible for making key decisions that impact the company and its stakeholders. Certain individuals or groups within a company serve as advisors or counselors to the leader. Decisions are made based on the company’s goals, objectives, and long-term success as these are per the mandates of the shareholder and his representative in the business environment, the CEO. The corporate governance and decision-making process is guided by laws, regulations and ethical standards much as these guide a political monarchy.
In politics, the President, his advisors and cabinet members can be considered similar to the court of a monarch. They play a key role in making important decisions that impact the country and its citizens. In a parliamentary system, the Prime Minister, advisors and cabinet members can also be considered similar to the court of a monarch. For both, certain individuals or groups serve as advisors or counselors to the head of state. The decision-making process is guided by laws, regulations, and democratic principles.
In Going to WARk, the method for young executives to accurately and effectively position themselves within a hierarchical environment is unearthed. The valuable lessons courtiers provided businessmen with were long lost but now these are once again uncovered. Young executives can find the values they need for ensuring their professional prosperity. Young executives can simply and effectively learn how to go to WARk.