HBO’s Game of Thrones (GOT) is arguably one of the greatest things that ever existed in television history. With an estimated budget of $15 million and 17.4 million viewers worldwide per episode, experts and industry insiders say that the show will continue to leave a lasting impact long after its finale.
Loosely based on the English civil war called “War of the Roses,” the story revolves around warfare and political struggles. A mystical fantasy filled with action, drama, and even dragons and zombies, Game of Thrones surprisingly overflow with leadership lessons that can transcend into our reality. Here are a few management lessons from the show that can be applied to everyday workplace dynamics with both your office-based employees and remote staff.
*Warning: This article may contain spoilers.*
1. Lead by example.
“The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.” Apart from the iconic line “Winter is coming,” this is perhaps one of the most important statements made by Season 1 favorite, Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark–teaching his young son about the value of accountability, responsibility, and leading by example.
Key Takeaway for Business: Leading by example not only helps businesses align their objectives, but it also inspires people to adopt higher standards of work. Leaders must set directions for their people to adhere to. When employers lead with their actions as well as their words, they set the right example for people in their organization to follow, helping everyone work towards one common goal.
2. Address problems before they worsen.
One of the looming threats in the GOT universe is the presence of “White Walkers,” a sentient breed of zombies who is out to overtake the whole Seven Kingdoms. Since Season 1, various characters have tried to warn those in power about this threat, but to no avail–losing countless lives in the process. It was only until the White Walkers breached the kingdom that people finally paid attention, but for some, the action came too late.
Key Takeaway for Business: Problems and conflicts are unavoidable for any business. It’s a good thing that there are steps that you can take in order to avoid crisis beforehand and protect your company. Listen to your instincts, ask for feedback, learn from your mistakes, do market studies, keep abreast of new trends, test new ideas thoroughly, create new solutions, and listen to your people. There is no specific formula for solving problems before they arise, but it is always better to be prepared for anything.
3. Acknowledge your weaknesses.
One of the most divisive characters in GOT, Sansa Stark, had one of the rockiest storylines in the show. Starting out as a spoiled, pampered lady, she then experienced multiple cases of abuse for the majority of GOT. Emerging victorious by the final season, Sansa embraced her weaknesses as her strengths, becoming one of GOT’s wisest characters.
Key Takeaway for Business: In order for a business to truly play to its strengths, it must also acknowledge its weaknesses. As a business owner, you may start with creating a regular SWOT analysis, and identify areas you need to work on. Be objective and see which products or services you can improve on. Outsource for roles or skills that you think are not in your business’ area of specialization. Try to see the broader picture and try to turn your weaknesses into your strengths.
4. Choose your people carefully.
One of the common themes in GOT is that advisers can make or break a ruler. From Robert Baratheon’s small council to Daenerys Targaryen’s small group of confidants, these individuals and their actions have led to some of the biggest plot twists in the fantasy series (ie. Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish). The same goes for some seemingly small players in GOT. In most parts, secondary characters in the series have risen up to the task in order to push the story forward and help leaders survive (ie. Hodor).
Key Takeaway for Business: Choosing the right people is vital in any business. A business owner needs someone he/she can trust, and who has the best interests of the company at heart. Choose managers who can truly lead your people, and who truly believe in your mission and vision. Level up your recruitment, or hire recruitment experts to vet candidates for you. You may also consider offshoring your staff, such as a virtual assistant who has already been prescreened for you.
5. Have a clear chain of command.
One of the biggest storylines of GOT is when King Robert Baratheon died and the legitimacy of his heir was left in question. Due to the king’s untimely death, he neglected to leave a clear and strong chain of command. This led the whole kingdom to chaos and brought about a season-long “War of the Five Kings.”
Key Takeaway for Business: Companies must establish a chain of command in order to have clear lines of responsibility and authority across all levels of the business. When a manager is not around, who takes over the reins for his/her department? Having an established chain of command answers this question. It enables business continuity and ensures deliverables are met—whenever, wherever.
6. Collaborate with the younger generation.
Game of Thrones doesn’t shy away from showcasing youth and its power. We could easily talk about the Young Wolf, Robb Stark, a great leader who rallied his bannermen in a quest to free the North from Southern tyranny. We can also talk about the striking Lyanna Mormont, Lady of Bear Island, whose impressive strength of character, courage, and leadership has easily made her a fan favorite. Or we can talk about the adventures of the brave Arya Stark, the character growth of her sister, Sansa; or even the impressive arc of the young orphan Daenerys Targaryen who grew up to be a dragon queen. The young people of the GOT universe were as capable and impactful as any adult in the show.
Key Takeaway for Business: Millennials are said to be the workforce of the future. However, some businesses are not keen to hire from this generation because of some pervasive myths about them. But studies show that hiring young people can actually help your business. Millennials can offer your business fresh perspectives. They are technologically adept, highly trainable, and can easily adapt to cultural shifts. Why not give them a chance and see what millennials can do for your business? (You can read more about debunking millennial employee myths here.)
Being a great leader and employing good management skills are important in the GOT universe, such as it is vital in real life. Be the best leader you can be and grow your business to greater heights by trying out these six management tips with your own office-based and/or remote staff. Give us a call and discover the best remote staffing solution for your business needs.