'Game of Thrones' Power Moves We Can Apply in Management
1| Knowledge is power. Use it to your advantage.
Petyr Baelish and Varys were effective advisors to the throne because they delivered accurate and updated information that they used to their advantage. They liked to discover how people behaved, what motivated them, and why they acted the way they did. They always knew the beat of their surroundings, and they used that to their advantage.
In any management setting, information is currency. For example, if you’re in sales, it’s not enough to know everything about the brands you are selling – you should also know everything about the people you are selling to, like their workflow. Agents must gather as much information as possible about their clients, especially their concerns – the negative issues they are irate about. Every concern is an opportunity for a sale. Knowledge is power if you know how to use it to your advantage.
2| It’s okay to get close to the people you manage.
And Jon and Daenerys are the show’s best examples of this. This goes against the conventional wisdom of not getting too familiar with people who report to you, but in some cases, this works. By getting close to your crew, you gain their trust and loyalty, and they obey you not out of fear of insubordination, but out of respect.
But like Daenerys, closeness to you does not mean immunity from accountability for mistakes.
3| Look to the future and anticipate the worst.
“The past is past. The future – that’s worth discussing.” – Petyr Baelish
A power move you can always use is foresight: looking at the future with positive things in mind, while anticipating negative things that might happen along the way. Baelish might be a cutthroat manipulator (cut throat – haha) but his talents also lie in always anticipating the worst outcomes in situations: “chaos is a ladder,” he said.
The Starks also use this approach: “Winter is coming.”
Anticipation allows you to turn negative outcomes favorable to your organization by adequately preparing.
4| Don’t punish those who question or criticize you.
Lord Varys eloquently told Queen Daenerys when she pressed him about his allegiance: “Incompetence should not be rewarded with blind loyalty. As long as I have my eyes, I will use them,” which is like saying, if you abuse your power, I will help bring your downfall.
Daenerys acknowledges this by saying, “If you think I’m failing the people, you will not conspire behind my back but look me in the eye, just like you have done today, and tell me how I’m failing.”
Effective managers are people who can listen to their staff and crew, and take constructive criticism. This is a power move that contributes to the longevity of people in the organization, but one that requires a lot of humility, empathy, and introspection from you. Have open lines of communication within your group to address issues.
5| Focus on people’s strengths, not their flaws.
In GoT’s Episode 2, Season 8, Jorah Mormont persuaded Daenerys not to punish Tyrion Lannister for miscalculating Cersei’s treachery. Coming down hard on your people’s mistakes can do more harm than good, not only to that person, but also to you and your organization.
As a manager, you are also a mentor, not a task master. Instead of punishing erring people, teach them and help them improve. According to American Management Association, acts of mentorship helps people see you more as a leader because they like and respect you and ultimately gets you promoted, unlike acts of discipline.
6| Surround yourself with intelligent people.
In Game of Thrones, the Small Council was a prestigious group of people who advised the Crown. They were also the best and most intelligent people in their fields of expertise: warfare (Jamie Lannister), medicine (Maester Pycell), science (Qyburn), espionage (Lord Varys), and skullduggery (Petyr Baelish). Their loyalty was only consequential, but their skills kept the Crown in power and ensured that things are running well in King’s Landing.
In real life, these are the team leaders, supervisors, assistant managers, etc. They must be equipped with proper skills and knowledge to fulfill their jobs effectively. Design trainings and provide seminars to develop your leaders.
7| Encourage inclusiveness and diversity.
There is strength in inclusion and diversity, which is a major theme in the exploits and conquests of Daenerys. Her penchant for inclusion and diversity earned her the many titles she has: Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons.
Daenerys united peoples of different races, cultures, and religions to her cause. She does not prejudice against the minority, but empowers them and makes them part of her Small Council, which is now composed of an unlikely crew of former losers: a eunuch, a slave, a dwarf, and a general without genitals. She sees past their skin color, deformities, culture, or background, and focuses on their talents. Her open mind allows her to build the best and most potent group of advisers in the series.
When selecting people for your team, keep an open mind and look past people’s backgrounds, cultures, heritage, or even flaws. Seek out their talents and strengths.