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. For the past couple weeks I have been sharing some leadership-related material connected with this series. Today’s and tomorrow’s post will wrap up this particular theme.
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 a couple of my favorites on the importance of keeping your word as a leader:
“In the end, words are just wind.” (Ser Davos Seaworth.)
In the modern vernacular, talk is cheap, or actions speak louder than words. As a leader, your credibility rises or falls on your words. Words are easy to cast, but sometimes difficult to execute. Thinking before you speak can save much pain and embarrassment later. As leaders, people should be able to count on our words.
“A Lannister always pays his debts.” (Tyrion Lannister.)
Tyrion Lannister valued his heritage and who he was as a person. Therefore, when he affirmed a Lannister always pays his debts, he was emphasizing he honored all his obligations. He wanted people to know if he said he would do something, then you could count on him to do it.
Leaders who affirm something with their words and then follow through on those words will always have a premium on their leadership. Unfortunately, we see too many examples of cheap leaders. The challenge we all face today is to exercise our leadership in such a manner that people know our words mean something. As leaders, our words must have meaning. The saddest place any leader can ever be is when onlookers know his or her words mean nothing. I value my word and my name too much to go there. I trust you do too.