I love leadership lessons. They abound in so many different areas such as classic literature, religious texts, philosophers, confidantes, workplace mentors, personal experiences, and great world leaders both past and present. In addition to these marvelous sources, I always enjoy the leadership lessons that arise in some of our contemporary movies and television programs.
Now in its third season, the HBO series, Game of Thrones, has quickly drawn a strong fan base. The genre may or may not appeal to you, but the series definitely provides some challenging leadership lessons. Starting last Friday, I have been sharing some leadership-related material connected with this series.
The television series is based on the original written series by George R. R. Martin entitled, Song of Ice and Fire. Set in an unusual world similar to the Middle Ages, but unlike the earth as we know it, seven major kingdoms battle for dominance.
The topography is extremely interesting because it is cast in what appears to be an inverted hollow globe perhaps a quarter the size of the earth with a small sun hovering in its center as people live on the inside surface. The sun is encased in various opaque bands that apparently by their systematic rotations create night, day, and seasons. You definitely gain a powerful sense of fantasy.
In spite of its fantastical and unusual setting, some rich leadership lessons arise from the plot and characters. Writing in Bloomberg Businessweek, Logan Hill summarizes many of these leadership lessons by quoting various series characters (“The Game of Thrones Guide to Management” 4/1/13–4/7/13, pp. 82–83). Here are two of my favorites on the importance of stewardship and discipline for a leader:
“There is a tool for every task and a task for every tool.” (Tywin Lannister.)
A wise leader does not try to fit a square peg into a round hole. At leadership’s core is the desire to be a good steward over all entrusted resources. This means the leader must be committed to putting the right people in the right places with the right tools at the right times. Using resources wisely and to their maximum capability is fundamental to quality leadership.
“In battle, discipline beats numbers 9 times out of 10.” (Eddard Stark.)
Eddard Stark recognizes that even in a battle in which his army is outnumbered, the discipline of his troops will often prevail and ensure the win. A small disciplined army will usually beat the larger undisciplined one. You do not rise to the privilege of leadership without discipline. Discipline is what enhances and extends all your efforts and plans. Without discipline, the leader and the organization suffer. With discipline, the leader and the organization will achieve victories others may have deemed unachievable.
Stewardship and discipline are two tremendously important leadership qualities. To the extent we demonstrate them our leadership benefits. To the extent we ignore them our leadership suffers. I find I must periodically evaluate my stewardship and my discipline if I am serious about strengthening my leadership.