Warning: This blog post may contain spoilers, so if you aren’t caught up on all seven seasons of Game of Thrones, get out while you still can! (And just go download our ebook about worker productivity. It’s not about dragons, but still super interesting.)
Sometimes, the office is a place of harmony. Other times, it can feel like you’re living beyond the wall — and winter is coming. So what if our beloved Game of Thrones characters were working (e.g., dragon-riding, king-slaying, managing a brothel) in today’s fast-paced, digital environment? Chances are, you see many of these fantastical character traits in your own managers and colleagues.
on the Iron Throne in the corner office
Unless your boss is Tyrion Lannister (how fun would that be?), having a Lannister-type leading your company would make for a pretty toxic Worker Experience. Today’s top leaders have strong morals, empower their people, and make employees feel safe. Senior leaders who lack these traits don’t instill much confidence in their teams, and their workers tend to be less satisfied (and less likely to stick around).
Thinking about looking for a job in another realm? Checkout Glassdoor first — they provide a place for employees to anonymously rate their CEO.
The overly loyal subject
While one of the most honorable characters on GOT, Lord Eddard Stark didn’t last past season one. Most would argue that his blind loyalty ultimately led to his demise. Maybe you have a boss or mentor like this, someone who always drinks the company Kool-aid and never challenges the status quo. They’re the well-intentioned leaders who try to shield their teams from change. They often say things like, “We’ve always done it this way.”
The problem with this personality type in a leadership role is that their resistance to change — particularly when it comes to processes and technology — will eventually harm the business’s ability to compete. Even companies that have been around for decades (or 8,000 years, in the case of House Stark) must continue to innovate.
We’ve all worked with a Littlefinger-type at some point. That charming colleague who’s always buttering-up senior leadership, while quietly pitting employees against each other. They corner you by the water cooler to give you some confidential “advice” (to which you aren’t exactly sure how to respond), and you never know where their loyalties lie or what their intentions are. Best way to deal with this person? Do not engage. Avoid getting pulled into their politicking, or you may end up on the chopping block. (Literally. Because it’s Game of Thrones.)
The natural born leader
“Success is the result of both deliberate controllable action and skill, and also a strong dose of luck – occurring in that order,” wrote Rick Smith, author of The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers. While it may be destiny that Dany was able to walk through fire and hatch three dragon babies, it’s her moral compass and strong leadership skills that earned her the loyalty of thousands of men and women.
A combination of strength and compassion can make for a great leader. Don’t chain your dragons up in the dungeon, but don’t use them to burn cities either. Show your strength as a leader, but be kind to people, and trust your gut to do what’s right.
The career advisor
Unless you’re the Three-Eyed Raven, you can’t know everything. You’ll need to rely on both positive feedback and criticism from trusted sources to improve your skills and achieve your goals. Or, you can just heed this sage advice from Tyrion Lannister:
“A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.”
“It’s easy to confuse ‘what is’ with ‘what ought to be,’ especially when ‘what is’ has worked out in your favor.”
“I try to know as many people as I can. You never know which one you’ll need.”