Leadership lessons from the women of Game of Thrones
I must admit that I was late to the game…The Game of Thrones that is. In expert binging fashion, I watched seasons 1-7 in about two weeks. Don’t judge me! I think watching the series in this concentrated time frame engaged me into the lives of these complex characters in a way that made leadership lessons obvious. Arya Stark, Brienne of Tarth, and Daenerys Targaryen have some lessons to offer us.
Arya Stark is my favorite character. I fell in love with her spirit from the very beginning. She is the youngest daughter and third child of Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn Stark. She may be female but she refused to adopt the traditional female role of her day. She did not fancy the life of a princess. She is feisty and Independent. She would rather practice sword fighting than sewing and hang out with her direwolf, Nymeria, than learn to dance. She is wise beyond her years because her circumstances required her to be.
Arya teaches us that surviving requires focus and discipline. She is always practicing her “water dancing” style of sword fighting. Improving her skill level is always top of mind and she constantly sought out experts who called her higher in this vital skill. She even named her wolf after a warrior queen!
Are you actively increasing your skill level in a critical strategic area? Have you sought out experts and mentors to call you higher? How is your focus and discipline?
Brienne of Tarth
Brienne is the daughter and only surviving child of Lord Selwyn Tarth. She is tall and tough! Like Arya, Brienne sought expert combat training. The thing that stands-out about Brienne is that she is a woman of her word. While women traditionally could not be knighted (spoiler alert…it happens in season 8, anyway) she holds to the ideals of knighthood. She believes that knights should always honor their vows.
In a twisted turn of events, Lady Catelyn Stark persuades Brienne to serve her. Brienne kneels with her sword and in her oath says, “I am yours, my lady, I will shield your back and give my life for yours, if it comes to that. I swear it by the old gods and the new.” Even after Catelyn dies, Brienne never wavered on her vow to find and reunite the Stark children. She even named her sword, “Oath Keeper!”
Brienne teaches us loyalty and the importance of keeping our word. In her world, loyalty was scarce but still, she was loyal.
Do you keep your word? Do you deliver on the things assigned to you? Are they delivered on-time? Would your peers call you loyal? Do you gossip about others? Do you associate with people that are also loyal to you?
Daenerys is one of the last two surviving members of the House Targaryen. She is young and beautiful but has known no life other than that of exile and is controlled by her abusive older brother, Viserys. He sells her to a Dothraki horse-lord, Khal Drogo in exchange for an army. However, Daenerys adapts and gains courage and confidence. Her brother dies and claims to the Iron Throne become hers by birthright. In her march toward the throne, she is determined to end slavery and injustice. She calls herself “the breaker of chains.” Through strategic partnerships, and the help of a few dragons, she establishes herself a powerful ruler.
Daenerys teaches us that we can turn adversity into opportunity. She overcame much hardship on her journey and rose to greatness anyway. I believe one reason for her rise to power was always having a trusted advisor, whether it was Jorah Mormont or Tyrion Lannister, she always sought counsel.
Do we use hardship and adversity as excuses for not achieving greatness? Or can we see that our trials and tribulations prepare us for the future? Do you surround yourself with trusted advisors and strategist that help guide your journey?
Out of these three women (Arya, Brienne, and Daenerys) only one was actively and aggressively seeking the Iron Throne. What does this mean? It means you do not have to be a CEO to be a leader. We are all leaders in our own lives, families, departments. What is ironic is that I thought I would not like this show because of the subjugation of women (it is part of the time period of the story) but in many ways the women of this show have the strongest leadership qualities of all. That teaches us that regardless of circumstances we can lead because leadership comes from within and has nothing to do with title or position. Channel your inner Arya, Brienne, or Daenerys and lead your credit union to greatness!