[SPOILER ALERT – If you haven’t watched Season 5, proceed with caution.]
Are you in a dead end position? Does it sometimes feel like you are leading a team of ingrates or idiots? Are you unappreciated by your boss, your team or even your customers? Or is some power-hungry, incompetent, pimple-faced kid wearing your crown?
Whether your aim is to attract high achieving team members, take home more cash, land the coveted corner office, or build a brand that customers are dying to say “yes” to, there’s much to learn about leadership and business from your favorite Game of Thrones characters.
Based on the best-selling book series by George R. R. Martin, the show purports to be a fantasy drama about swords, seven kingdoms, social hierarchy, sex and sorcery but at its essence, it’s a master class on power, persuasion and leadership. The story revolves around the battle for the right to sit on the Iron Throne – to be the King the Seven Kingdoms – and as you would suspect, there are many characters who feel they have the only legitimate right to lead.
In many ways it’s the age old battle between good and evil but as we all know, power has the potential to corrupt and sometimes the lines between influence vs manipulation, leadership vs dictatorship, and death vs destiny become blurred. And if you think about it, this same power struggle is very likely playing out right now in your business or place of employment to varying degrees.
Can you spot the leader among this selection of fascinating, flawed and feared characters? Or is each one destined to play a subservient role or worse… be stabbed, poisoned or beheaded?
- The Democratic Leader
As the lone surviving child of the overthrown “Mad King”, Aerys Targaryen, Daenerys starts out adamantly believing that the Iron Throne is her birthright. As the series begins, she is forced into exile after her father is killed – which is where she marries the Dothraki leader Drogo, becomes the Khaleesi, and slowly earns a reputation as the “Breaker of Chains” and the “Mother of Dragons”.
The influence of the Dothraki on her leadership style is unmistakable. While others in Westeros follow self-proclaimed or inherited leaders, the Dothraki will only follow the one who has the strength to lead: You may lead as long as you are a leader.
By the end of season 4, she has amassed a large army of slaves from many cities, including the Unsullied. Even though the Unsullied must follow without question, she breaks their chains and invites them to choose to fight on her behalf. In freeing them and thousands of other slaves, Khaleesi discovers that birthright alone is not enough: The respect and loyalty she earns by choice, rather than force, is far more powerful and enduring. In the finale, we see her leadership style evolve yet again as she regretfully chains two of her beloved dragons up in the catacombs when she discovers that the third has killed a three year old girl.
Leadership Lesson: People follow strength above all. Regardless of birthright, death, appointment or tenure, leaders lead. They step up and do what needs to be done without the need for a title or lauding it over others. Saying someone is a leader doesn’t make them an effective one. In Jim Collin’s list of the top leaders in Good To Great, all were characterized by the absence of celebrity. For a leader to achieve something great, her ambition must be for the greatness of the work and the company, and not solely for herself.
- The Coercive Leader
We all know someone in a position of power who didn’t doesn’t deserve it and cannot handle it. Joffrey Baratheon was the quintessential, incompetent heir. In addition to his questionable lineage (i.e. he was a child of incest between Cersei and Jamie Lannister and not the first born son of Robert Baratheon), he made almost every mistake imaginable as the young King of the Seven Kingdoms. He was a bully, braggart, spiteful, irrational, a poor negotiator and a coward. Joffrey refused to listen to anyone’s advice, even though he was very young and had no battle (or leadership) experience. Perhaps Cersei summed it up best when she tried to counsel him to be a more benevolent leader – “The occasional kindness will spare you all sorts of trouble down the road.”
It’s a miracle that he lasted as long as he did. At his wedding to Margaery Tyrell, Joffrey was poisoned by a wine goblet at the banquet. His final gesture, as he lay dying in the arms of his mother, was to point towards his uncle Tyrion Lannister, as if to finger him as the assassin/culprit.
Leadership Lesson: While sometimes effective in a crisis, the “do as I tell you approach” should be avoided in every other circumstance as it can alienate team members, smother innovation and stifle flexibility. You cannot call yourself a leader if you are despised and you refuse to listen to feedback and suggestions from your team. This sort of leader will doom your workplace to failure as they will often take down other members, or the whole organization, on their way out the door.
- The Affiliative Leader
He may be one of the smallest characters, but Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf son of the most powerful man in King’s Landing, is a fan favourite who proves that it is possible to have a big impact no matter how small (or insignificant you feel) you are.
In the battle of Blackwater, Tyrion realizes that he must take charge and rally the men to fight — the King (Joffrey Baratheon) has run to hide with the women, his brother Jamie (the Kingslayer) is missing and his father Tywin Lannister is delayed in battle elsewhere. In addressing the men, Tyrion knows full well that his small stature is a serious disadvantage in battle and that the men are, outnumbered, scared and reluctant to put their own lives on the line for their cowardly King.
Tyrion does what Tyrion does best – he wastes no time on giving them a speech about honour, duty or glory, but rather, he inspires them with the “what’s in it for me” speech.
“Don’t fight for your king, don’t fight for his kingdoms, don’t fight for honour, don’t fight for glory, don’t fight for riches because you won’t get any. This is your city – Stannis Baratheon means to sack, your gate he’s ramming. If he gets in, it will be your houses he burns, your gold he steals, your women he will rape. Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let’s go kill them!”
Leadership Lesson: To lead you must always focus on strengths (yours and others) as opposed to attempting to compensate for weaknesses. People will naturally follow a leader who creates emotional bonds that bring a sense of belonging and purpose to each individual and the team.
- The Reluctant Leader
Jon Snow is the illegitimate son of Eddard (Ned) Stark and an unnamed prostitute. He was raised by Ned and Catelyn Stark and is much more introverted and solemn than his half siblings. Growing up with illegitimate status made him indignant and it spawned a deep desire to prove himself – as is evidenced by his decision to join the Night’s Watch and his choice of duty over love on many occasions.
Even as a valuable member of ”the rejected”, Jon finds himself an outcast and in direct conflict with both the leader of the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings. Despite all of this, Jon is a proven and effective leader of men, having been instrumental in battle against the wildlings, Stannis Baratheon and others. His time at the wall has solidified his resolve and allowed him to explore his true potential. However, notwithstanding his obvious clarity of vision, strategy, foresight, emotional intelligence and purpose, he is reluctant to claim the mantle of “Leader”.
Leadership Lesson: Leaders are made not born. Regardless of pedigree, tenure or title, people will naturally gravitate to the one who has purpose, passion and conviction. With the right mentorship and encouragement, these reluctant leaders (with street cred and loyal followers) can evolve and develop over time to become formidable and unassailable leaders.
- The Fanatical Leader
Stannis Baratheon, the eldest brother of the late King Robert Baratheon, was arguably the rightful heir given that Joffrey was not the legitimate son of Robert. He is a tried and tested battle leader whose dedication to the rule of law and stability means he provides generously for those under his rule and punishes those who challenge him or disobey his will.
As the story unfolds, he becomes increasingly rigid in his views, dependent on the black magic and prophesies of Melisandre and his iron-fisted leadership style alienates him from even his closest advisors. He is without empathy or mercy and simply cannot conceive of a world where anyone would see things differently to him.
Leadership Lesson: It is impossible to lead effectively (and with longevity) without empathy and the loyalty/respect of your team. A leader who continually trusts only himself and insists on holding all of his cards tightly to his chest, will quickly find himself with no team members to lead. This leader may very well be brilliant but he will nonetheless, fail miserably.
- The Charming Leader
Margaery Tyrell is a natural born politician, loved by the common people and one of the few characters uses her feminine wiles to gain power and persuade others. She has no army and no familial right to the Iron Throne yet she consistently re-positions herself within close proximity of it.
Even after her husband Joffrey is poisoned at their wedding banquet, she is quick to endear herself to his younger brother Tommen (the successor) and cleverly manipulate an important conversation with Cersei Lannister, to procure another shot at becoming Queen.
Margaery is under the careful tutelage of her grandmother Lady Olenna Tyrell. Now Lady Olenna has no formal authority, army or birthright to the Throne but nonetheless, she is one of the most unassuming, skilful and powerful characters. As an elderly, unmarried woman, Olenna flies completely under the radar but has had a monumental impact on the balance of power: Olenna was a linchpin in the assassination of Joffrey Baratheon. The Tyrell family control one of the major food production regions in Westeros and have assured the Lannisters that King’s Landing would continue to receive uninterrupted shipments, thus preventing rioting which previously destabilized the regime. At the end of Season 4, The Lannisters remain tenuously in power (reeling from the death of Tywin Lannister in the finale), due to the support of the Tyrell family.
Leadership Lesson: If you want to successfully herd a group of cats, try opening a can of tuna. Diplomacy and strategy may very well be more effective than strength, birthright or money.
- The Adaptive Leader
In a series known for twists and surprises and the untimely death of several key, beloved characters with strong leadership potential (Eddard Stark, Rob Stark etc.), Sansa Stark may herself be somewhat of a wildcard. Until the middle of the fourth series, she would best be described as meek, sheltered, naive and insignificant.
With each episode she is becoming increasingly worldly under first the tutelage of Joffrey Baratheon, then Tyrion Lannister and now Littlefinger. The seeds have effectively been sown for her dramatic metamorphosis. Born with her father’s sense of passion, honour and justice, she is slowly learning how to use her own innocence, frailty and trustworthiness as a weapon and tool to manipulate others. By the end of the fourth season there can be no doubt that she is not the same little girl who was kept hostage and bullied by King Joffrey. Even though we have no indication that she aspires to greatness or a position of leadership, she is being groomed for something important and she now has a deeper understanding of what it takes to rule the 7 Kingdoms. It would not be inconceivable for her to play a pivotal role alongside Littlefinger in future episodes.
Leadership Lesson: Adaptive leaders exert strategic influence on their environment by being willing to experiment, modelling behaviours of proven leaders, encouraging innovation and taking calculated risks. They excel as leaders when there is commitment and trust between the followers and them: In the absence of these two things, they are at best master manipulators and will be relegated to positions of secondary importance behind the scenes.
- The Unified Leader
It takes a unique, agile and talented individual to breach a 700-foot high wall of ice and overthrow a whole civilization. But it takes a leader to unite a group of wildlings, beasts and giants who are essentially defined by their independence and wild, unbridled nature.
Mance Rayder, The King Beyond the Wall, is the great leadership wildcard in the series because we know so little about him. If he can unite a large, diverse group of barbarians and mount The Wall, he may be a strong contender for leadership in a Westeros divided by petty squabbles and a bunch of King- Wanna-bees. However, In the Season 4 finale, Stannis Baratheon shows up to fortify the efforts of the Night’s Watch at The Wall and Mance Rayder is taken prisoner – his fate and future leadership aspirations are put into the hands of Stannis and Melisandre.
Leadership Lesson: A united team is more powerful than a group of passionate individuals working independently on their own goals. If you are an effective leader, you will choose people who are committed and focused on a singular goal–your goal. The worst thing you can do is to surround yourself with a team that does not believe in your vision or product/service.
When you look around your business or place of work, do you recognize any of these stereotypical leadership styles? Are you leading (or being led by someone) with an iron fist or do you feel as though your chains have been removed and you are finally free to reach your full potential?
Whatever the case may be, it pays to ask yourself “what type of leader do I aspire to be” and “whose vision of the future do I want to be a part of”? In the end we must all ask ourselves the million dollar question – “What is a Leader?”
As explained by Jim Collins in Good To Great, great leadership often goes unnoticed, unappreciated and unpublicized by the masses. Studying the foibles and virtues of these fascinating Game of Thrones characters is a great way to experiment with different styles and develop some strategies for enhancing or honing your own unique style.
Do you agree with my list, or like Jon Snow, “do I know nothing”? What other leadership lessons do you think can be learnt from the show? Get in touch and share your insights now via the comments section below.
**This blog is an excerpt taken from a series of posts and press releases on this subject by Rhondalynn Korolak. She is a lawyer, chartered accountant, media commentator, keynote speaker and best-selling author of 3 books, the most recent of which –Sales Seduction–is in theTop 20 Sales and Marketing Books on Amazon.com
It is critical, particularly during challenging economic times, that business owners recognize their employees for all their hard work. If you can reaffirm and re-enforce your team members’ value and contribution while your organization is coping with the global downturn, you stand a better chance of retaining your best people when the economy turns around and opportunities to leave become plentiful.
When we think of employee recognition, most may think of praise and financial rewards. However, it will require a holistic and integrated approach to ensure that members of your team know their importance to your continued success. Nearly everything we do as business owners in the workplace either contributes to or takes away from how recognized and appreciated our employees feel. If you, as the owner and leader of the organization, go into work feeling and acting as if you are a victim of the down economy, your team will follow your lead and adopt a helpless attitude and blame external factors for lack of growth and sales.
Employee recognition can be used strategically by employers to reward good behaviour and keep team members “present” and accountable for favourable results. It builds and reinforces the belief that they work for a company that cares and it reminds them to look for solutions (as opposed to focusing on problems or what is not working in the business).
But all employee recognition is not created equal. Almost all businesses use varying combinations of intrinsic recognition – health-care benefits, flexible work hours, time-in-lieu for volunteer activities, training opportunities and annual awards.
But recent studies (surveying thousands of workers across Australia) have clearly shown that the cornerstone of meaningful employee recognition is actually “opportunity”. An award may be a tangible, formal sign of recognition, but employees view opportunity as the primary indicator that their manager values them.
Opportunities don’t have to be expensive to be effective. You can provide the chance for a team member to better themselves by doing something as simple as trusting them with VIP customers or introducing them to a key figure inside or outside of the organization. It’s also been proven that employees find recognition more inherently valuable when it’s administered individually (i.e. in private) rather than in public.
The business owner or manager is the essential component when it comes to effectively recognizing valuable team members. Companies should employ the 80-20 rule-keeping in mind that team members respond best to a blend of diverse mix of employee recognition. Only a small percentage (20%) of an employee’s overall recognition can come from peers and financial means before it loses its effect. The remaining 80% should come from the business (i.e. intrinsic recognition) and direct praise must always come from the manager, and be delivered in private, in order to maximize the impact.
When you consider it from the perspective of the employee, it makes perfect sense. The manager or business owner ultimately decides who gets hired, who gets fired and who gets promoted. Timely approval and recognition from the owner or manager is the best way for an employee to judge his/her progress and stay accountable by focusing on targets and solutions. Opportunity is in fact the #1 motivator – and it often won’t cost the business a cent, which is great news in challenging times like these.
Is your business growth starting to plateau or stagnate?
It’s easy to sit back, take the foot off the accelerator and watch the sales roll in, especially if you’ve been satisfied with your recent performance. But keep in mind that if you slack off too much, your competitors will soon catch up and eventually put you out of business.
Take a look around – businesses (and your competitors) are closing their doors due to the drop in consumer spending – which means MORE potential customers for businesses like YOU, that do survive. Today is the best time to take steps to revamp your marketing efforts and respond to the needs and the pain of your target market.
In these tough times, it’s going to take more than “thinking outside the box” and goodwill with existing customers to secure the survival of your business.
I want you to STOP right now and make a list of everything that you (and your competitors) do NOT do to make it easy for your prospects to buy from you. If you want to succeed over the long term, you will take a good hard look at both of these lists and find a way to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to win your customers and keep them.
Granted, this is not an easy task. Most businesses will continue to do what they have always done – guess or assume what they think their customers need. However, no matter how challenging it is to ask the hard questions and re-engineer your strategy, I guarantee it will be a whole lot less painful and stressful than going under.
I had a married couple come to me once for advice and coaching – both the business they were in and their relationship were at the breaking point. The husband turned and said to me “I don’t understand it. I do everything humanly possible for my wife and she doesn’t appreciate me and I don’t think I can possibly do anything more to satisfy my customers – they are never happy and always want more. What can I possibly do?”
My answer to this age old dilemma applies to him, his marriage, and to you in your business right now. “Sounds like you are doing a lot. Too bad it’s everything BUT the very thing that your partner and customers need most.”
While this may sound harsh, I think you will agree that it is absolutely true. It does you no good to work harder doing everything…instead of focusing on the 1 thing that you customers actually need. Wouldn’t it be easier for you to work smarter, not harder, if you knew with absolute certainty what that 1 thing is?
How can you take the lesson from my client and apply it to your own business right now?
How could you go about figuring out what that 1 thing is?
I want you to do something really radical today and start asking both your prospects and existing customers what they need. You need to find out:
• What is the biggest challenge your prospects are facing in their business?
• When your customer thinks of the product or service you provide, what is THE most painful or difficult issue associated with acquiring it?
• What is the most important criteria to your purchaser when evaluating a company like you?
• What are some things that he/she thinks about or considers from a financial perspective when selecting that product/service or a vendor?
• What is the key strategic driver for you customer’s decision?
It doesn’t really matter what you have done up to this point or how hard you are working. There is no prize for volume or quantity. What counts is quality and relevance.
Are you giving your customers what they want and are you willing to do whatever it takes to help them cure the pain that they are in?
More of the “same old same old” is not going to differentiate you from the pack, build trust, win customers and grow your business. Take some time today to really think about what you offer and how it could be improved to meet the primary need of your customers. If all of your customers were to leave today, what would you need to change in order to win them back and survive?
At the end of the day, price is never the determining factor. Once you uncover the true cost of the problem they are facing, price becomes irrelevant. Your customers will always be willing to pay a fair price for a product/service that cures their pain – not to mention the peace of mind that comes with excellent service. Take stock of what the competition is NOT willing to do and what your customers wnat most from you.
Do something unique – listen and be willing to do whatever it takes to deliver what they want (and need). Anything less, is simply a waste of your time and money on everything that doesn’t really matter.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6586203
It has been over 50,000 since human beings lived in caves. All those years ago, life was pretty much about survival – each morning our ancestors would emerge from their caves and scan the horizon for imminent danger. Although things have changed a lot in our external environment in the last few thousand years, in many ways, the wiring in our brains has not. In fact, 90% of what you and I do on a day to day basis is still based on that ancient wiring and survival mentality and it is precisely this legacy that needs to be re-directed to prevent self sabotage from holding you back, personally and professionally.
You see our brains are wired to spot and avoid danger. It is because of these primitive instincts that we all have a tendency toward self sabotage.
Even though the danger may not be “life or death”, we see this dynamic play out in our work environments almost every day. For every daring and outlandish new idea that is proposed by one hopeful soul, there will be a long list of skeptical colleagues who are willing to offer 20 reasons why the idea might fail or cause harm. This sabotages innovation and progress.
So, how does this play out exactly?
We seem to have a biological urge to save people from themselves – this may take the form of overtly belittling the person with the idea, tearing the proposal to shreds, refusing to examine or consider the suggestion seriously or creating an environment where it is unsafe to brainstorm or take risks. Instead of fostering initiative and exploring options, the focus is immediately shifted to put up protective roadblocks and creative stop signs (i.e. sabotage).
Does any of this sound familiar?
Either the voice in your own head that says “you cannot do it” or the guy who sits two cubicles away and has a knack for tearing everyone else’s ideas to shreds… yet he can never seem to come up with an innovative or original solution of his own. In our vigour to ensure that new ideas are properly vetted and scrutinized, our ancient and hard-wired brain response to scan for danger and protect ourselves, is effectively killing innovation. This automatic reaction needs to be identified and consciously overridden in order to ensure that we (as individuals and organizations) start generating novel and constructive solutions to problems.
3 Tips to Avoid Sabotage and Foster Innovation
1.Eliminate “But” – Instead of searching for looking for defects or pointing out why something won’t work, focus on how you can add to the discussion or process. When you (or someone else) conceives of a concept or strategy, resist the urge to say “yes, but that will never work because”. By substituting the word “and”, it will allow you to constructively add to or expand upon the idea rather that stopping the creative process dead in its tracks. This slight change in words and focus will exponentially impact creativity and reduce sabotage.
2.Don’t mix right and left – Creativity and innovation are often associated with predominately “right” brain thinking. While critiquing and evaluation are often considered the domain of the “left” brain. It is difficult (particularly in a group dynamic) to generate momentum around creativity and imagination while simultaneously attempting to evaluate and examine each idea. Even the most adept and flexible brain will struggle to shift gears back and forth. In order to create the best environment for each and get the best results, it is preferable to schedule a separate time for brainstorming and appraisal.
3.Put away your club, caveman – It takes approximately one second, from the time you physically react to something in your environment that generates a strong emotion, to when your conscious mind kicks in and you start to think things through. When generating new ideas and searching for innovative solutions, resist the urge to club suggestions to death. Take a deep breath and think things through before commenting verbally. Consider using a trained facilitator for group sessions – this will keep everyone accountable and provide an objective perspective if the atmosphere becomes in conducive to advancement.
I once heard a senior manager chastise someone in front of 14 colleagues for suggesting an idea that seemed [to him] preposterous and impractical. You could have heard a pin drop in that room and it pretty much shut down the communication for the rest of the meeting. Nothing got solved and everyone left deflated. In one foul blow that manager essentially killed any hope of brainstorming a viable solution. At the end of the day, every problem has a solution. The key is to harness and re-direct the infinite potential within your own mind (and the collective mind of the team) to find the inspiration that will produce the desired result.
17 Aug 2011
Do You Sometimes Make The EASY Way Look Hard?
What if I told you that YOU are you’re own worst enemy? Would you be offended or would you smile and agree, because you know it’s true. It’s true for ALL of us.
You can tell a lot about a business person by the way they spend their time. We all spend our time in various ways. Many business owners and senior executives tell me that there is not enough time in the day to get everything done. Personally, I have a belief that there is always enough time in the day to do all of the things that are WORTH doing. The key is to identify what is worth your while.
Sometimes activity can be a kind of anesthesia for the pain of not achieving the results you want and deserve. Action is always better than procrastination. However, more activity is not always better than less.
What about ‘make busy’ activities? If you’ve ever spent your day stuck in back-to-back meetings, answering routine questions from your team, responding to emails, troubleshooting, emptying the in-tray or tidying the office, you know exactly what I mean by ‘make busy’.
It is easy to spend large amounts of time on ‘make busy’ activities. In fact it is possible to spend ALL your time on these activities, creating the magnificent illusion that you are hard at work, simply because you feel flat out. You are working hard but you have very little (in financial results) to show for it. Your day is full of tasks and you get home exhausted – so you must have put in a hard day’s work, right?
Unfortunately, these habitual and ‘make busy’ activities can keep you trapped where you already are – just simply maintaining, not growing. By filling your days with these tasks, you are in effect avoiding the very activities that you know will really move your business or career forward and produce tangible results – what we might call ‘productive activities’. These activities rarely happen automatically. They require focused attention. And, all too often, they get relegated to ‘tomorrow’ or ‘sometime soon’.
A great many business owners and senior executives, while they like to think of themselves as entrepreneurial, would rather do anything other than face the thought of ”productive activities”. They probably have these things on their ‘to do’ lists, but after another day of busyness, they just say to themselves – again “It’s OK, I was really busy. The business planning review will have to wait for tomorrow.”
The problem is this – and believe me, I have seen it played out many, many times: if you are waiting for the right or best time to do these critical ‘productive activities’, that time will simply never come. Tomorrow there will be more ‘busy work’ to do, and your unproductive habits will fill the rest of the day, and the cycle will start all over again.
Today is a new day – the past is over and has no relevance to today or your future. Successful people are not without problems or challenges. Successful people simply refuse to carry the SAME dilemmas or hurdles for months (or years) on end. They seek solutions, face impediments, overcome obstacles and move on. They make time to focus on ‘productive activities’. They rise above the ‘noise’ of busyness, create ways to focus their mind on the things that really matter right now, and get on with the job. They set specific goals and they monitor and take action based on the financial trends in their business. They don’t try to do ‘everything’, they focus only on the very things that will give them the most leveraged and positive result. They rarely blame external circumstances when things go wrong and they take responsibility every day for what they choose to spend their time on.
Success is achieved with less not more – and it’s actually easier than you think. Working like a dog to avoid dealing with problems and keeping yourself immersed in ‘busy work’ – now THAT IS HARD WORK! Why would you choose to do THAT when you could simply take a step back and choose to do the 1-2 things that you know would move your business forward right now?
Isn’t it time to start taking it easy? It worked for The Eagles in the ’70s and it can work for you in your business (or career) right now!
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/4936506