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5 Leadership Lessons From 'Game Of Thrones' That Can Be Applied To Your Own Life

By Robin Wood, MensXP

George RR Martin's acclaimed novel titled 'The Song Of Ice & Fire' when adapted into a show, almost ten years ago by HBO, left an overpowering impact on the viewers. Within the first two seasons, everyone was discussing the show, it's intriguing characters, the complicated relationships, deceit, wars, a very compelling plot and everything else the show brought to the table.

The thing is, 'GoT' is not just your run of the mill epic-fantasy show but a lot more. It dissects the very fabric of society we live in, the people we interact with, the relationships we harbour and the battles we fight. If you look into it with more depth, you'll know how it seeps into a trajectory which is very familiar with today's modern world. Of course, there are no brothers having sex with their sisters (we hope not) and you may not see dragons flying about, but there are some firm life lessons you can take back from the show and apply them to your own life.

One of the most stringent and important lessons the show gives us on a platter is the skill to be a good leader. If you see how the show is streamlined, it isn't much without apt leadership skills at display. Be it through a demonstration of power, strength, wisdom or union, leadership is the essence of 'Game Of Thrones' and through this article, I will point out 5 fantastic leadership lessons you can learn from the show, to apply in your personal life.



1. Always Listen To Advisors

Well, of course, you probably won't have advisors because you're not the Protector Of The Realm TBH but it's always wise to seek counsel from someone who is more experienced and wiser. Whether it's the work front or personal life, if you're leading something fiercely, don't act upon your ego and heed advice when you need it best.

When Tywin Lannister became the hand of the king to Tommen Baratheon, he asked him what makes a good king. After certain answers that Tywin wasn't happy with, Tywin told him a good king is someone who listens to his advisors and heeds their advice until he comes of age. Of course, he was saying that to manipulate him but there is a very deep lesson in there somewhere. So, if you're in a momentary fix with work, and if that's acting up on your leadership qualities, don't shy away from seeking help when required.




2. Always Know Your Weaknesses

"A wise king knows what he knows and what he doesn't."

These words were said by Tywin Lannister to his daughter Cersei, who'd come to him to ask him to bestow more responsibilities upon her as she had more to contribute than her brothers. Her father certainly thought otherwise, only because she was not smart enough to recognise her weakness.

If you've noticed Cercei's rule, she's instilled more fear in people than respect for her and that's only because she's refused to realise her weaknesses over time. As a good leader, you must have enough faith in yourself to acknowledge what you're good at and what you're willing to improve, in order to bring clarity to your own thought process. If you do recognize something you're weak at, you're going to be more empathetic towards it, in order to understand graver problems that may lie ahead. A good leader who knows his weaknesses can turn them into strengths by acknowledging and addressing them.




3. Knowledge Is True Power

Yes, strength does conjure power but when you have the knowledge, it lets you use your strength wisely and in a timely manner. Have you ever heard of the saying 'strike when the iron is hot?'. Well, it's something like that. I don't mean become an opportunist but gathering knowledge and using it when you really should, is a good aspect of leadership.

If you see how Tyrion Lannister, or Varys or even Littlefinger displayed their leadership skills in the show, you'll know exactly what I mean. Both Littefinger and Varys rose from modest origins and made their way into the small council by displaying a sheer thirst for understanding everything and using it at the right time. They're not perfect examples of great leaders but they used one of the skills fairly well.

Tyrion, on the other hand, always was the smart witty one, who used knowledge to the greatest advantage and became the hand of the queen, eventually. Another good example from the show is Samwell Tarly, who was forced to become a part of the Night's Watch, but his interest lay in reading books and applying that knowledge in resolving conflicts, and he did so fairly well in the show.

You might be street smart, which is also an essential skill to lead but if you gather enough knowledge over time, it makes you wiser, resilient and unlike Jon Snow, you know things!




4. Always Plan Ahead

By planning ahead I don't mean foresee an undeniable future, by planning ahead I mean always look at the many possibilities and go through them until you trust your instincts and chose the right one to follow. One always needs good leadership skills to study the situation thoroughly and take appropriate action, which can also help in the future too.

That's what makes Jon Snow an excellent leader. He always led by example and examples told him about the foreseeable future, and he would apply those learnings to his present. For instance, when he witnessed the Night King's army, he immediately took action because he knew what was coming for the world. He went beyond the wall to persuade the wildlings to join him in the fight, even though he lost his life for it. He went to the south and bend the knee, just so Daenerys Targaryen could help him fight. He initiated a meeting between all the leaders to warn them against the dead and persuade them to fight together, even though a few backed out. He planned ahead because he saw some important shortcomings he obviously couldn't overcome alone. Always be wary of every situation, while you lead!




5. Be Fair In Your Judgements

Fairness is an important quality every leader should practice. Having just democratic leadership skills can take you where you really want to be. If you think about the welfare of everyone you're working with or for those who work under you, you're already a good leader.

Daenerys inspires both loyalty and respect from those who follow her. And why shouldn't she? She is a fair leader after all. She gives everyone free-will to follow her and never demands people to accept her as a leader. When she freed slaves from the 3 cities of Slaver's Bay, now known as the Bay of Dragons, she never forced anyone to follow her lead. She gave them a just and fair choice and they all decided to make her their queen, only because she acted fair, unlike their previous 'masters'. Her use of power and her dragons was minimal when it came to earning the respect of her people.

If you're leading a team, always be fair in judging their demeanour, behaviour, practices and their work and then make a fair assessment out of that. If you're a fair leader, you'll earn more respect than someone who uses power to lead.



There are many more leadership skills we can all learn from 'Game Of Thrones'. Hopefully, your accent to leadership isn't as cut-throat as the show, but whatever it is you're leading, if you apply the above-mentioned skills, you're sure to ace your endeavor in every way possible!




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