Game of Thrones is more than just a show. It’s a subculture and a phenomenon that is on everybody’s lips these days. Even the people who take great pride in never having watched an episode are still talking about it 🙂 And while us, the fans, are waiting to see what happens in the last two episodes, we can take a look back and think of the lessons GoT has taught us so far.
In this article, we are going to discuss what we can learn about leadership from the great characters penned down by George R. R. Martin.
Know your limits and explore your strengths
Every person has their weak points, but also their strengths, which can help them succeed even if the odds seem to be against them. Just think about Tyrion, Arya, Sansa, or Bran.
Who would have thought in the first Game of Thrones seasons that they would not only survive, but end up playing such major roles in the final battles for the Seven Kingdoms? So many great warriors have perished and yet these underdogs managed to turn the odds in their favor to become some of the strongest characters, able to influence the fate of the war.
“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones
If you are less of a Jon Snow and more of a Tyrion, you can still be a hero and make a huge impact. Simply focus less on your weaknesses and more on your strengths! Get to know yourself and do the best you can with what you have.
Stand for something bigger
Leaders who only care about themselves and put their own interests above anything else are rarely liked by their people and their allies.
In Game of Thrones, some are loyal to the Lannisters for financial retribution, but those loyalties are quick to fade away when someone else promises to pay more. We’ve seen how things went with Bronn, Tyrion and Jaime in last week’s episode 😉
At the opposite pole, we have Daenerys, whose people would gladly give their lives for. The explanation is simple: they truly believe not in the person she is, but in the idea she represents.
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In the world of corporate leadership, the lesson that needs to be learned here is that your goals and your vision should serve a higher purpose. A purpose that you, as a leader, need to pursue until the end, no matter how hard it is.
Don’t let failure stand in your way
Every single leader in Game of Thrones has known failure. For some, that led to their end. But the common trait shared by all the parties currently fighting for the Iron Throne is that they never let failure defeat them.
Both Cersei and Daenerys have been through tough situations, humiliated, tortured, and seen their loved ones dying. Jon Snow has even died himself. But all of them have learned from those mistakes, sat back on their feet and kept fighting even harder than before. Literally, what didn’t kill them made them stronger.
As a leader, you should learn from failure and use those lessons for future advantage. With failure you gain experience and get more resilient, which eventually helps you grow and progress. Next time you feel like losing a client is the end of the world, just think about Jon Snow coming back from the dead to keep fighting among the living or Cersei’s 180-degree comeback.
The lesson is that it ain’t over till it’s over. Even if you lost one battle, the war is not over, unless you stop fighting. So don’t!
Be reliable and trustworthy
One of the most important traits of true leaders is standing by their promises. This is how you win people’s trust and loyalty.
Ned Stark promised his sister that he will protect her baby and never tell anyone who he really was. He had rather let everyone believe he has been unfaithful to his wife and raise a kid who wasn’t his own. He kept the secret so well that he took it in his grave without telling a single soul – a task not even Jon was up to 😉 Also, Jon has sworn to protect the North no matter what. He takes a knife to his heart, and later gives up on his title as the King of the North in order to protect his people.
Prove yourself as a fair and reliable leader by always delivering on your promises. No one will ask you to give your life to accomplish that, but you should soldier through the obstacles and overcome the challenges that might stand in your way.
Fight for what you want
This is a lesson we need to get from Daenerys most of all. If we are looking at the 3 current competitors for the Iron Throne, we can see that Cersei has mostly fought to defend something she already had, Jon fought mostly out of loyalty, while Dany is the only one who started out with absolutely nothing but a legacy that only mattered to her and a few others. She has literally been through ice and fire but she never lost sight from what she wanted.
True leaders always know their worth. You should never sell yourself short or think that you are not up for a task. No matter how unlikely it seems that you will succeed, there is only one option: to pursue your dream.
Successful leaders are good leaders
In retrospection, all the leaders we’ve mentioned above have been successful in one way or another.
Even the most-hated Cersei shares some of the qualities that make for a good leader. However, putting her own interest above that of her people and forging alliances based on chance and opportunity is what will probably bring her end. Being feared by the people and leading with an iron fist can only take you so far.
At the end of the day, ask yourself what kind of leader you want to be and why will your people follow you: through fear or by believing in the same ideas and following your dream.