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7 Things Game of Thrones Taught Me About Leadership

7 Things Game of Thrones Taught Me About Leadership

HBO’s Game of Thrones, a television show based on George R.R. Martin’s acclaimed novels entitled A Song of Ice and Fire, has become a cultural phenomenon. Although originally intended for adults, even young ones just can’t help to watch this show. Game of Thrones has obtained a range of active international fan base worldwide and has received popular recognition from various critics. Game of Thrones is not just a thrilling story. Yes, it has epic fight scenes, thought-provoking dialogues, intriguing characters with complicated and complex personalities, and compelling plot, but it is more than that. The show runs deeper than your typical fantasy escapism. It is arguably one of the wittiest and most distinct shows in television, which can make its audience wonder of what’s going on at all. The Game of Thrones universe is full of life lessons. This show encompass a lot of betrayals, deceits, and ruling power, but it will also teach you more about life, relationships, and, of course leadership. This series will show you how to rule a kingdom or, in our reality, how to become an effective leader. Here are a few valuable leadership lessons from the best and the worst leaders of Westeros.

1.  Trust with Caution

Be careful in choosing who you trust. In Game of Thrones, the audience is deliberately told not to trust anyone or risk getting killed. Though you may not risk being murdered, this is a good reminder to trust with caution. Do not give too much information to people you barely know, especially when it comes to managing or leading a company. However, trust is one of the keys to organizational and better performance. No one can lead a team without trusting anybody. So, as a leader, identify whom you should trust and how you can gain the trust of others in order to reach your goals.

“I swear to you, sitting in a throne is a thousand times harder than winning one.” – Robert Baratheon

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    2.  Lead by Example

    Ned Stark is known for being an honorable and just man in Game of Thrones. His character is one good example of being an effective leader. He always means what he says and does what he means. Ned puts his swords to his words and doesn’t stay out of duty, no matter how unpleasant it could be. A true leader is someone who can be a role model in all aspects. You must be accountable and must embody the values you want others to follow. Remember, they are watching you so you should exemplify the best. Take responsibility and inspire greatness to those you lead.

    “The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.”- Eddard “Ned” Stark

    ned-stark-quote

      3. Discover Your Strength

      Tyrion Lannister might be small in stature, but he is known for being good at ruling behind the scenes. His fascinating ability to see everything in a different perspective is what makes him one of the best characters in the show. Though he had been humiliated throughout his life, he makes up for it in his wit and intelligence. Tyrion is driven by nothing other than his strengths and will to survive his own reality. As a leader, Tyrion should inspire you to discover your strengths and use them to achieve your goals. By understanding your strengths, you can focus on what you are good at and you can further develop your skills to become more effective in leading people.

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      “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”- Tyrion Lannister

      tyrion

        4. Stand Firm in Your Convictions

        The manipulative, brilliant strategist and stoic commander, Tywin Lannister, urges you to stand firm in your convictions. He is known for his unfettered and dominant attitude to ensure that the Lannister legacy lives on. He rules based on what he thinks is right and never allow anyone to deter his decisions. More often than not, leaders are either making decisions with other people or their decision impacts others. Being a leader you are bound to make decisions for the good of all and not only for yourself. Learn how to stand firm in your convictions. Do not let the personal choices of others make you doubt on your own.

        “The lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinion of a sheep.”- Tywin Lannister

        tywin-lannister

           5. Know Your Worth

          Daenerys, the mother of dragons, knows exactly what she deserves and what she dreamed of. Despite the struggles she has overcome, Daenerys never underestimated herself. She has no training in commanding an army, but she gained confidence and strength to lead the Dothraki people after realizing her worth. As a leader you have to practice believing in yourself so others will trust you. Never underestimate the things that you can and cannot do as you lead people. Show what you can do and become better at it. Just like Daenerys, know how extraordinary you are and don’t undervalue your worth. You are a leader so stand with conviction and act like one.

          “I’m no ordinary woman. My dreams come true.” – Daenerys Targaryen

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          daenerys

            6. Take Command

            In the fourth season of Game of Thrones, Jon Snow has proven his leadership skill. Snow is wise, compassionate, and a natural leader. Using his natural leadership, he led the Night’s Watch in battle against the wildlings and successfully holds the Wall against overwhelming odds. Taking command is having the authority to direct people into strategic position. As a leader know how to guide others into action and not coerce them. Engage and energize the workforce through motivating them and earning their trust. Once you trust your people you can establish command by supporting behaviors that bring good results.

            “I’m the watcher on The Wall.” – Jon Snow

            Jon

              7. Increase Your Knowledge

              Petyr Baelish comes from humble origin, but because of his skills and knowledge on how to connect with people, he became one of the most powerful officials in the Seven Kingdoms. Knowledge is important in becoming a leader. Knowledge brings respect. If you are knowledgeable in leading people, it is easier for you to earn respect and trust from others.

              “Knowledge is power”- Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish

              Baelish

                Featured photo credit: Chess Metaphor Board Business Concepts Game Pawn/PublicDomainPictures via pixabay.com

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                Last Updated on March 15, 2019

                How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

                How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

                When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

                Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

                In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

                What Makes a Leader Fail?

                A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

                If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

                And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

                What Is Effective Leadership?

                Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

                Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

                Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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                “… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

                How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

                To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

                1. Courage

                The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

                “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

                Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

                For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

                In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

                It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

                Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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                2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

                If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

                The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

                To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

                3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

                Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

                Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

                4. Likability

                Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

                When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

                Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

                So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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                5. Vulnerability

                Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

                When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

                6. Authenticity

                Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

                Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

                7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

                Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

                Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

                Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

                Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

                As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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                “A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

                8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

                Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

                This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

                9. A Passion for Continual Learning

                Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

                These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

                Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

                The Bottom Line

                No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

                Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

                More Resources About Effective Leadership

                Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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