Leadership Lessons From Game of Thrones, S2
Game of Thrones is fantastic. It is currently one of the hottest shows on TV and one of my favorites. I love watching it with my wife and talking about each episode.
If you haven't already checked out Life Lessons from Game of Thrones, Season One, you should!
For those of us looking, there is much wisdom and many leadership principles to be learned from this show, and I thought writing about and sharing them would be a fun way to look at life and leadership. Here are some of the leadership lessons from Game of Thrones, season two.
1: You want to lead one day? Well, learn how to follow – Lord Commander Jeor Mormont
You can't start out leading. Though you may be thrust into a management position, this doesn't automatically make you a leader. In order to lead you must offer and provide value. In order to know where to add value, you have to know how to follow.
If you're going to lead, going to stand-up, make a difference, and add value to the people around you, you must first know where the value is needed. All great leaders were once followers and most still have someone to follow.
2: Loyal service means telling hard truths – Maester Cressen
If all you want is a “yes-man”, you probably won't have to look very far, especially if you're in a leadership position. The “butt-kiss”, the “brown-noser”, and the “suck-up”, are usually easy to spot. But, the person who cares enough about you to tell you where you're making mistakes is harder to find.
In church we call these people “accountability partners”, in my marriage I call this person my wife. In whatever situation you find yourself, if you're surrounded by yes-men, you're in big trouble. Find the person you can bounce ideas off of, the person who will help pick you up when you stumble. But just as importantly, find someone who will tell you where your gaps are.
And, if you're a great leader, you'll also have someone to help you bridge those gaps.
3: No man gives me a crown. I pay the iron price. I will take my crown for that is who I am – Balon Greyjoy
In this part of the show, this line is in reference to going to war and plundering for what you have; ie, taking by force. That is not what I'm advocating. What I learn from this is that no one is going to give me anything; I have to work hard and earn it.
The person who first said, “the best things in life are free”, was probably not a leader. Nothing in life is free. There is always a cost. Leaders work hard for what they have and they give 110% to their cause. If you go through life thinking someone will give you power, respect, wealth or influence, you'll probably be waiting a long time.
Leaders take what they want through hard work, building influence and making a positive difference.
4: Hard truths cut both ways – Stannis Baratheon
Sometimes the truth hurts. That is a fact of life. While I definitely believe that honesty is the best policy, hard truths do cut both ways. What I often have to remember is to stay positive. Truths should be used to build someone up, not tear them down.
If you're about to critique or criticize, remember what Carl Jung said –
Criticism has “the power to do good when there is something that must be destroyed, dissolved or reduced, but [it is] capable only of harm when there is something to be built.
5: A man is what others say he is and no more. If they say Xaro Xhoan Daxos is a liar, my word is worth nothing – Xaro Xhoan Daxos
I'm not entirely sure I agree with this one, but I think it's worth discussing; let me know what you think in the comments section. Just because someone says you're a liar doesn't mean you're a liar. While I agree that perception is reality, and that life is often a matter of perspective, just because someone says something about you doesn't make it true.
Be true to yourself, stick to your guns, and DWYSYWD (do what you say you will do).
6: How can a man be brave if he's afraid? “That's the only time a man can be brave” – Rob Stark quoting Ned Stark
Without fear there can be no courage. If we are guaranteed to succeed, we don't need to be brave. Bravery is only necessary whenever we're not sure about the outcome. I was afraid when my dad had his stroke last year and I think there is always an element of fear when we head into the unknown.
7: One game at a time my friend – Tyrion Lannister
Many people have heard the phrase, a “jack of all trades,” but it's rare to find someone familiar with the second half of that phrase, “and a master of none.” We can be good at many things but we cannot be great at everything.
Focus on your strengths and surround yourself with a good team to help you overcome your weaknesses.
As Abraham Lincoln said,
A house divided cannot stand.
We should focus on one thing at a time and do the best we can.
These quotes should be a fun overview of season two. Even if you don't watch the show, I hope you enjoyed!
Question: Which quote is your favorite?