I’ve recently started watching Game of Thrones after months of being told how good it was, how much I’d like it and how much I was missing out on by not being a regular viewer. Well, everyone was right – it’s amazing. Any fans don’t need me to tell them that the combination of power struggles, violence and dragons is practically unmatched on TV. However, while developing an unhealthy fascination with the series, I’ve also noticed a few key lessons that all businesses could learn from.
Build strong pipelines – Nobody liked Joffrey but at least he held King’s Landing together. He may have been utterly loathsome, evil, tyrannical and plain awful, but he did at least carry himself like royalty. However, his replacement Tommen is nothing like that and is, frankly, a poor excuse for a King. Can you really imagine him organising a defence against a siege or charging into battle? The Lannister family didn’t necessarily have a choice, but businesses do, and failing to build effective pipelines leads to poor leadership succession. We all know what happened to Apple and Disney after their leaders initially departed and the same thing could be happening to the house of Lannister, which is currently teetering on the brink.
Surround yourself with good people – You may think you can run everything, but the truth is, to be successful you have to delegate and that means you have to trust those around you. Robb Stark (RIP) made that mistake and we all know what happened to him. Tywin thought he was surrounded by people he could rely on and ended up being slain on the toilet by his own son. And as a result of that, Cersei is now surrounded by a small council made up of in-laws and relics who can’t offer any valuable advice. If you want to be successful, you have to build a good team around you who can offer additional guidance and tell you when you’re heading down the wrong path.
Utilise mentors – Arya Stark is one of the most popular characters in Game of Thrones and has come a long way in the series. She’s always been feisty, but her time with Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane really made her who she is. The grizzled veteran taught her a number of things and also highlighted that utilising mentors is an effective way of developing new skills and picking up best practice advice from those with more experience. Yes, Arya was abducted by the Hound and while their relationship didn’t end on brilliant terms, you can’t deny that he was a good mentor.
Don’t put all your (dragon) eggs in one basket - Just as Daenerys has found out, you can’t rely on one or even a small group of big hitters because if they leave, you’ll be in an extremely difficult position. She relied on her dragons to carve a path through Westeros however has now found that they are, unsurprisingly, not easy to control. The same applies for organisations. You may have one or two star performers, but you can’t rely on them at the expense of the rest of the business and should always look to develop skills equally across the board. That way, if you are left in the lurch by a departing star employee, there shouldn’t be too many headaches when you have to replace them.
Listen to your employees – There’s countless examples of this in Game of Thrones. Tywin advised Joffrey about his behaviour prior to his downfall, Davos Seaworth urged Stannis not to attack King’s Landing and perhaps most memorably, Jon Snow warned his superiors to block the passage through the Wall to prevent the Northern armies from surging through. All this advice wasn’t heeded; however it should have been. Listening to your staff and taking on board what they’re saying can be a highly effective engagement tool. An employee who feels their voice is being heard is considerably more likely to stay with their employer than one who doesn’t and you may find that your organisation benefits from taking fresh ideas on board.
What lessons do you think businesses can learn from Game of Thrones?
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