HBO’s Game of Thrones manages to capture the attention of the world in a way no one could’ve predicted. According to Time Magazine, 8.9 million people watched the most recent season’s finale. That’s a number businesses of all kinds would kill for.
Speaking of numbers, the hit show has garnered 110 Emmy Award nominations, including six Outstanding Drama Series nominations, with a remarkable 38 wins. Game of Thrones combines popularity with quality, delivering consistent stories about remarkable characters in a world both alien and familiar.
People who’ve never thought twice about dragons are now having heated, nerd arguments at the dinner table about made-up names and fictional nations. Game of Thrones might have dragons, armies and the occasional magic spell, but there are underlying real-life elements worth considering. For the business person, there are plenty of lessons to learn from the cast of powerful characters surviving in a brutal world.
We make our own safety
In Game of Thrones, a growing army of supernatural, powerful beings called the White Walkers are coming to take over the world – leaving destruction in their wake. Elsewhere powerful armies are amassing, overthrowing centuries of ancient rule. In this world no one is safe – not even the most powerful. Anyone who’s entered the business world knows this feeling. While you’re not worried about ancient ghosts killing you with swords, the unrelenting dread of operating in a highly competitive market never leaves.
Yet, in response to this relentless fear, the characters in Game of Thrones don’t simply give up. They act. Some come from humble beginnings to sit at the tables of kings and queens. In the face of loss and hopelessness, the strongest leaders manage to rally their troops for one final push, one final battle. This is what you must do, too – don’t ignore concerns, but face up to them. There is no guarantee of safety and, like them, you must make your own in this hostile environment.
No one could make any progress without relationships. Strong alliances cause great empires to topple in Game of Thrones. One character, Daenerys, focuses on unification and alliances, while her advisors have often recommended warfare. As she marches from city to city, her army and power grow because she focuses on creating, not breaking bonds. (It also helps that she has dragons at her command).
What this should show you is the power of alliances and being open to forming new relationships. Yes, the world is incredibly competitive, but you shouldn’t forget we’re all in this same difficult world trying to survive. With new technology, it is also easier than ever to find convergence approaches to business: forming a relationship with someone who is an expert in an area you’re not. This lets you both utilise individual strengths to achieve an incredible end. You might not have dragons, but you can still make alliances.
Kings, queens and all sorts of powerful leadership roles are on display. In the harsh world of Game of Thrones, being good or evil is irrelevant to success. But what appears to work is leading by example. Soldiers are willing to follow leaders they respect into even the most impossible situations. They’re less likely to defend a king they hate.
Similarly, you should look to your own qualities as a person first, before examining what leadership means. Being a leader should be an enhancement of your best characteristics. It should be qualities that inspire, that makes others want to leap into the fire with you – if not for you. With a strong leader, you can overcome all odds and defy expectations.
Leaders bring people together and when you have this combination of strong alliances, a refusal to give up in a difficult world and a strong hand guiding this deliberation, you can survive in this often brutal world.
*This article was originally published on iafrica.com.