King in the North or King in the Office

In the fictional realm of Game of Thrones, we can learn a lot about being a leader. George RR Martin opened millions up to a magical society that leaves us craving more. Embedded in his daring story are many life lessons that can be applied to our management styles in order to make the office our kingdom. Through my recent binge of the series in preparation for Season 8, I have taken note of 4 lessons that I found important in today’s world. (Warning: Spoilers Ahead)

Lesson 1: Connections are EVERYTHING


Throughout the series, we meet many of the important families of Westeros, Essos, and Sothoryos. As we near Season 8, the race for the Iron Throne is more important than ever before. In past seasons, we see many examples of how alliances positively affect the individual kingdoms and regions. From alliances through marriage, to connection for trade purposes, connections and alliances keep the world running smoothly. Now, as tensions are rising and Daenerys Targaryen is closing in on Kings Landing to take back the throne, we see how her alliances measure up against those of the Lannister house. An interesting concept that we also see through this race is how available resources is a reflection of how leaders treat their subordinates. In the case of Daenerys, she rules through kindness and fairness and her people respect her as a fair leader and are fighting for a better world. On the other hand, the Lannister family have ruled through fear and violence and now their grip on the kingdom is slowly crumbling. In an office setting, maintaining positive connections like Daenerys and treating coworkers fairly will lead to success. Having a good and supportive attitude will help you further your career and foster lifelong relationships as Jon Snow has done in Season 7 while gathering his diverse army against the White Walkers.

Lesson 2: Identify risks and be prepared for anything

In the magical world of Game of Thrones, we see many prophecies come into play that greatly affect how characters interact in the future. One flashback we see in Season 5 revolves around Cersei as a young girl asking a witch about her future. When Cersei asks her 3 questions, she gets confusing answers that have a dark undertone regarding the fate of her future children. She takes in the information cautiously but is overall content in hearing that her children will be future kings. Later in her life, had she readdressed the prophecy, she may have been able to take precautions to save or prolong the lives of her children. While the risks may not be as serious as real life and death in a business, it is still crucial to prepare for every outcome before making a big decision. It is important to anticipate both positive and negative results and have a plan as to best handle them. As a manager, you never want to be playing catch up in a situation. We saw this mistake with Stannis Baratheon when he tried to take Blackwater Bay and had no backup plan for Tyrian and Tywin Lannister’s plans and suffered a large defeat.

Lesson 3: Progress cannot be made when a company is in turmoil.

Throughout the different lands we see many changes in rulers that more often than not led to a worsened state of the kingdom. For example, when Daenerys arrives in Astapor, one of the three major cities in Slaver’s Bay, she meets with the Good Masters to discuss the Unsullied soldiers. After much debate she agrees to trade Drogon, her dragon, for the army. Once the Unsullied are in her power, she orders them to kill the Good Masters and take the city. After they have been defeated, she frees the Unsullied and asks them if they would fight for her as free men, they unanimously agree. When they arrive in Meereen, Daenerys gives a speech denouncing slavery which upsets the Great Masters. To fight back against Daenerys’ new rules an opposing organization, The Sons of the Harpy, form and they wreak havoc on the city and Daenerys’ army. This whole situation leaves the city in shambles as fighdany targaryanting commences. In the end, Daenerys and the Masters agree to phase out slavery and to not make a radical change to the culture of the area. Although this is an extreme case of turmoil, when everyone was fighting it was impossible to make a decision. Without discussion and compromise, there was no chance of helping the community in trouble. In an office, when there is a misalignment of ideas, it is important to talk it through and find a solution that appeases both sides. In this case, even though Daenerys was right morally, the decision had to help the kingdom move forward as a whole and that could only be achieved by the leaders putting their heads together to come up with a solution.

Lesson 4: Flexibility is the key to success

Flexibility is a universal trait that is necessary in all situations. An important case of flexibility in Game of Thrones comes from Jon’s idea to bring the Wildlings over to the safer side of the wall. Through making this decision, he upset many of the brothers of the Night’s Watch and was eventually killed because of his choice. While rescuing the Wildlings, the White Walkers attacked the settlement and it soon became apparent how necessary the alliance was. By putting tradition aside, Jon saved thousands of lives and strengthened the resistance jon snowat the wall against the White Walkers. In the workplace it is incredibly important to be flexible in what you do. The ability to be flexible and collaborative is highly sought after in the professional world. Moving forward into Season 8, every leader will have to put their differences aside and fight the White Walkers. Without teamwork, the 7 Kingdoms will be doomed and businesses might suffer the same fate in a global economy.

While ruling a kingdom and managing an office have different expectations; by watching the positive leadership tactics presented in Game of Thrones you too can be a good leader. There is a fine line between good and evil but looking at each leader shows you a different strength and style. In the end, it is about making your subordinates respect you for your character and not out of fear. As the wise Tywin Lannister once said to his grandson Joffrey, “Any man who must say “I am the King” is no true King”.




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