Leadership Lessons from Game of Thrones Kings
The type of leadership you represent in your office affects your mobility, your reputation, and in large part, your success. Although it can be difficult conceptualizing how you lead, especially if you don’t perceive yourself in a leadership position, the truth is we’re always leading by example. To help you start thinking about how you lead, we’ve put three common leadership styles into a context we all know and love: Game of Thrones.
Robert Baratheon is a complicated figure. While he’s a great example of someone whose exceptional performance in the field earned him great respect and eventually the role of king, this pinnacle was not something he expected. When we do an excellent job as employees, that might mean a promotion, but being prepared for your new role isn’t always just adequate training. Robert truly relies on his team to help him make decisions—in fact, some might say Robert doesn’t do much and instead delegates. Although, in Robert’s case this was laziness and a lack of desire to rule, what we can learn is the power of delegation, and how critical it is for leaders to ask for and utilize the advice of their peers, while also being aware of their own limitations. A great leader knows when they are biased, and understands when to ask for help.
Although being well-known throughout the Seven Kingdoms, Jaime Lannister is sort of the opposite of Joffrey. He’s not a public leader but he does understand the weight and responsibilities of his reputation and demonstrates effective and efficient leadership throughout GoT. Jaime is efficient, because even though he takes orders from Cersei and his father, he demonstrates value by taking initiative to determine which of his battles are worth fighting. If a problem can be solved more quietly and effectively, Jaime will choose that option. For this reason, we can learn patience and efficiency from Jaime. As employees, we are extensions of our corporate image and reputation, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t push back or take initiative if our public leaders are issue edicts we think might be more effectively handled another way.
Jon Snow is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum that exists between Joffrey Baratheon and Jamie Lannister. He’s a public leader, but he doesn’t desire the title and power the way that Joffrey does. Instead, he leads by reputation in a similar manner as Jaime Lannister. Except unlike Jaime’s more negative “Kingslayer” image, Jon is revered as a man of the people. A leader like Jon Snow is always working towards the greater good. He goes out of his way anytime he can to help others no matter whether they have something in exchange for him or not. Employers look for and cherish employees like these because having someone who understands and values the “bigger picture” in your office helps your other employees learn by example. Learning how to reach beyond your immediate duties to help advance the bigger picture, and doing so without expectations of reward is an excellent way to stand out to both peers and supervisors.
Who else makes a great leader on Game of Thrones? Do you have any suggestions? We also recommend reading our list of female leaders, especially since GoT is all about queens this season. Post your thoughts in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!