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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 July 17, 2019

                The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                The Neurology of Ownership

                Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                More About Goals Setting

                Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                Reference

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