Game of Thrones has evolved into a cultural phenomenon. Nobody could have predicted that it would garner the fame that it now has. Its complex social, political and historical background captured the imaginations of millions and it has been a fan favorite ever since.
The show is rife with lessons. Some of them pertain to simply surviving in the face of death while others involve Machiavellian scheming to cement one’s place on the Iron Throne.
So, as we wait for the wonderful world of Westeros to return, let’s go back and review these leadership lessons from Game of Thrones.
Needless to say, spoilers ahead.
United We Stand
While it is not uncommon for houses to join forces on Game of Thrones, most of the time, this is done with the view of furthering one’s own power and riches.
House Tyrell joined forces with House Lannister when Renly Baratheon was murdered by his brother. They cemented their allegiance my arranging marriages between the two houses. However, House Tyrell didn’t hesitate in murdering King Joffrey’s, the betrothed of Margaery Tyrell, daughter of Mace Tyrell, when it becomes apparent that he would not be easy to control.
Season 7 saw something unusual. Jon Snow not only managed to bring all the squabbling Houses together but convinced them to join together to fight against the White Walker’s ever-growing and fast-descending army.
The same principal applies to modern leadership. Motivating people to unite in the face of a common enemy, like an approaching deadline, can help increase productivity. Humans are creatures of instincts and our greatest instinct is that of survival. Threaten us with a horde of white walkers and we will all knuckle down to work.
Know what you don’t know
This list of leadership lessons from Game of Thrones wouldn’t be complete without this one.
In the sprawling world of Game of Thrones where people are constantly conspiring against each other, knowledge is considered power.
Gathering information and advice is a common maneuver used by the characters. Lord Varys employed a complex and vast network of children for gathering information. The King was advised by members of the Small Council on matter of policy-making and strategy.
In Season 7, Daenerys Targaryen had fashioned her own small council. She realized that while she had come a long way, she still has a lot to learn especially about the politics of Westeros. She needed Tyrion for strategy and diplomacy and Grey Worm to lead the Unsullied.
Successful leaders know their weaknesses and take steps to ensure that their ability to lead is not compromised by their weaknesses. Like in Game of Thrones, real-life leaders do not have to be the wisest of them all. Successful leaders surround themselves with people wiser than they are and listen to them.
Leaders must lead
From Eddard Stark to Jon Snow, Game of Thrones is filled with examples of leaders leading by example. Ned Stark sets the bar high in the first episode of the first season by teaching his son, Bran, that “The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.” He then swiftly deals justice to a deserter.
Despite his brief lifespan on Game of Thrones, Ned Stark is the epitome of a true leader. He doesn’t shirk from his duty no matter how much he wants to. When King Robert Baratheon asks him to be his Hand, he agrees, putting duty before family or comfort.
Jon Snow is another character that has consistently displayed good leadership qualities, even when such qualities led to his death.
While you do not have to die to be an effective leader, leading by example is one characteristic shared by many great leaders. Leaders are role models. They have to set the bar high for people. Without the inspiration provided by leaders, many of us would not be motivated to strive to do our best.
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Author: Fred Wilson
Agile and Software Consultant at nTask. Productivity expert. Tech enthusiast.