As promised here is the second part of my article on Leadership and The Game of Thrones. This time we look at story telling.
More Lessons From Westeros – Learning From The World of Game Of Thrones
It’s hardly surprising that a world as rich and detailed as Westeros, the setting for George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, is full of lessons for modern leaders. It’s a story full of leaders and strong-minded individuals who set some good examples, as well as some terrible ones.
But the themes of the book and the features of Martin’s world can teach us lessons too.
House words – knowing and communicating values
The mottos of the noble houses in Game of Thrones are great examples of how to clearly and concisely convey a sense of purpose. In the best cases they show not only what a house values but what they do and act as catchy reminders for the house, their followers and their opponents of what to expect from them.
Take the motto of the Greyjoys – ‘We do not sow’. It tells you where their skills lie and how they make a living – from working at sea. But it also shows their values. They set no stock by the mundane permanence of living off land. They take from the world around them, instead of building and planting.
The unofficial Lannister words are another fine example – ‘A Lannister always pays his debts’. It’s a reminder of their wealth and status, and the importance of good money management to their success. It’s a promise to honor agreements. And it’s a threat – cross us and we will pay you back.
A well thought through slogan or mission statement acts as a real point of focus for an organization, and the noble houses of Westeros show how to make this work.
Working with what you’ve got
Game of Thrones is full of examples of how working with the resources you have is the path to success. Daenerys Targaryen, far from home on a distant continent, makes good use of what she finds along the way, whether it’s dragons, prophecies, or a city full of slaves yearning to be free. Adapting to circumstances lets her go from strength to strength.
The same can be said, though in less fortunate circumstances, for Arya Stark. Left in dire straits after the first series she plays the hand she’s dealt, making the most of her opportunities. She learns to be cunning and resourceful, to live of the land, to keep her head down while surrounded by enemies, and to strike a hard bargain.
You can’t always control your circumstances, but you can succeed by adapting to them.
The Night’s Watch – working for the greater good
It’s easy to forget, when competing with other companies in the same field, that there can be a lot to gain from working together. The houses of Westeros spend their time at each others’ throats, but it’s when they lose track of that shared good and stop adequately supporting the Night’s Watch that the country faces its greatest external threat.
The Night’s Watch is a great embodiment of diverse interests working towards a common good. The whole of Westeros contributes to protecting its borders, and this keeps them safe. In the same way, by bringing competing businesses together to share best practice or work on community projects we can all gain from organizational efficiencies and a finer world.
Learning from stories
Humans developed story telling to share learning, and it’s good that we can still learn from stories. So what are your favorite examples, whether from TV, film or books? What other fictional worlds can we learn from?
Image credit: veneratio / 123RF Stock Photo