The Game of thrones has become a rather well known show, even if you haven’t seen it, you have surely heard of it or read the books. Though all the intrigue and deception makes for a very interesting story to watch and read there are a lot of management lessons hidden throughout the story. From each character there is something to learn that can be used in real life. A few of these are:
With freedom comes loyalty
When Khaleesi goes to Astapor and buys herself a troop of unsullied, she gives them back their names; she gives them a sense of freedom and self worth. This in turn makes the unsullied much more loyal to her as they follow her by their own choice rather than by force.
Management lesson: This is the best kind of management advice out there. Treat your employees like allies not slaves. This engenders a feeling of responsibility as well as loyalty.
Adapt to survive
Perhaps one of the most loved characters, Arya Stark has stolen her way into everyone’s hearts. A little girl with no special skills, she has managed to survive the series. From walking treacherous roads with the Night’s watch recruits to becoming the ghost of Harrenhal to traveling with the hound to training at the House of Black and White. Arya has been struggling and winning.
Management Lesson: Adaptability is the key to survival. Like Arya Stark you need to be able to adapt to whatever situation you are put in. Trends change, markets fluctuate, technology gets updated, you need to prepare yourself for every eventuality and mould yourself as the situations demand.
Know your limits
Theon Greyjoy never had an easy life. Kept as a hostage and ward at the Stark castle, all but rejected by his father, he has this inexhaustible need to prove himself. Accompanied by a crew that doesn’t trust him, Theon proceeds to take over Winterfell. This turns out to be a rather bad idea. He is unable to hold on to it and with twists and turns, he lands himself into his tortured fate.
Management Lesson: Ironborn have a long history of being raiders and pillagers. They are great at sacking places, but not at keeping them. Even if Theon had forgotten his family history, he would have known had he taken out the time to learn about his crew. So from Theon we can learn that every team and every individual has a limitation. Make sure you know what yours is.
Another one of everyone’s favorites, Tyrion Lannister proves time and again that “a very small man can cast a very large shadow.” Part of his charm is that he regularly finds himself in head-cinching situations and manages to somehow waddle out of them. First he is able to get Bronn to champion him at the Vale, and then he manages to convince the hill tribes not to kill him. In fact he manages to get the clansmen to follow and serve him.
Management Lesson: Through everything that Tyrion Lannister goes through, he is rarely safe. At any instant he is inches from losing his head and his dignity (probably a worse situation than facing project failure). But he remains at ease. Managers similarly should always project of cool confidence. They must be ready to stare down the potential threats with an air of coolness.
Jaime Lannister also known as kingslayer was part of the kingsguard for the Mad King, Aerys Targaryen. He was of the sworn seven who pledged to protect their King with their own lives if need be. But, by the end of Robert Baratheon’s rebellion it was Jaime Lannister himself who wielded the sword that pierced the Mad King. Even when more than a decade has passed, Jaime Lannister is still referred to as the Kingslayer.
Management Lesson: Every step of the way and every day, you need to watch what you are doing. As a manager you do not get the liberty of big mistakes. You should know what you are able to deliver and you should keep in mind that you do not over promise because once your reputation is tainted, there is no going back.
Wherever you are going take the culture in account
Honor and bad management – that is what killed Lord Eddard Stark. Ned comes to King’s Landing, but he is not ready to begin a player in the “Game of Thrones” and even though Cersei Lannister warned him “When you play the game of thrones, you either win or you die.” Ned refused to change his methods and continued the way he had been at Winterfell.
Management Lesson: What works for one group of people might not work for another. You need to take the time to evaluate how your team interacts with each other, and how the company runs as a whole. Do not get distracted by what may have worked at another company. What made the Starks famous at Winterfell was their honor and sense of justice and these were the very same things that got him killed in King’s Landing.
Winter is coming
The Stark house words are perhaps one of the most prudent anecdotes in the series. Even though it was a long summer, the Starks never changed their words, as morbid as it might sound it is a reminder that times are not always going to be sunny and warm because Winter is coming.
Management Lesson: Always remember that troubles come unannounced and it is best to have a strategic plan in place for the long term. Be prepared to deal with any disasters that may happen. Map out all the possibilities where things can go wrong and have plans in place to deal with any contingency.
Delegate and Reposition
During the battle with the wildlings, the wall seems ready to fall (not literally), Ser Alliser is wounded and there are giants knocking at the gates. In this situation Jon Snow takes command and rectifies the situation.
He judges that he is not much use at the top of the wall so he delegates the charge to Ed, then he hands the charge of the gate’s defense to Grenn and he jumps into the dangerous courtyard to help win the battle.
Management Lessons: This teaches us that management is not just about recognizing the talents of others, but also about knowing your own. Jon Snow is next to useless on top of the wall but below in the courtyard, his swordsmanship helps the Night’s Watch win. So you need to know your team well enough to assign tasks according to your employees’ strengths and to also know where you can help and where you are hindering.
There are a lot more lessons to learn from this series and these are just a few of them. Share with us the lessons that you think were important in the Game of Thrones.