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Leadership lessons from Game of Thrones

Posted by
14 Aug 2017
Game of Thrones is more than just a hair-pulling drama. It is also packed with valuable life lessons about leadership. Here are the key leadership lessons I have taken from George R.R. Martin's and HBO’s modern masterpiece.

Always be a man of your word

Successful business leaders will always stand by their word, and while honour and trust can often be debated in Westeros, the most loved characters usually always stand by their word. Robb Stark discovered first-hand the dangers of going back on one's word. In marrying another woman instead of following through with his planned marriage to one of Walder Frey’s daughters, he infuriated valuable allies, resulting in the unforgettable horror that was the Red Wedding.

Always recognise and reward talent

Successful businesses will recognise and reward talent to improve productivity and increase morale amongst their workforce. Failing to do so can often have an adverse effect. For example, Tyrion Lannister is brimming with talent but throughout the programme is never recognised. Tyrion is intelligent, strategic, and compassionate – all qualities of a great leader and if treated correctly Tyrion could be a great asset to the Lannister family if they could only look past his dwarfism – a condition which his family continuously holds against him. Tywin Lannister longs for a son with military mindfulness and political strategy – the qualities that Tyrion excels at. Tragically, Tywin refused to acknowledge his son's skills, simply because of his shape and stature. In contrast, Daenerys Targaryen recognises Tyrion's value and talent. She does not hold his physical appearance against him, and adds him to her team of advisers almost instantly, which is sure to help her greatly in the battle to conquer Westeros.

Do not be afraid to build unlikely alliances

In the Game of Thrones world, leaders are continuously making strategic alliances, even with less-than-perfect partners that at first glance appear to be enemies. Whether it is Jon Snow uniting with the despised wildlings to fight a greater evil, or Daenerys Targaryen making peace (or trying to, anyway) with the slave masters of Meereen, Game of Thrones' greatest leaders are not afraid to make alliances when need be.

Never let failure deter you

The best leaders never let failure or setbacks deter them from their goals. Stannis Baratheon for example retreats from the Battle of Blackwater with depleted troops but renewed determination. Brienne of Tarth meets setbacks at every turn in her mission to rescue the Stark children, even outright rejection by the girls she is trying to save. Still, she refuses to give up. Neither of these characters let their failures define them, instead they continue moving forward even when the odds are against them.

What other lessons can we learn from Game of Thrones? You can let me know in the comments below or get in touch with me by emailing michael.macfarlane@sellickpartnership.co.uk.


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