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Learn to lead

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Learn to lead

Mitali Bose lists down five leadership lessons learnt from Tyrion of the House Lannister in the famous teleseries Game of Thrones

HBO’s Game of Thrones at surface may seem to be all about epic battles, fire-spitting dragons and witchcraft, but the undercurrent that anchors this television drama series is political maneuvering, betrayals, persuasions, deceits and shifting power dynamics. It runs deeper than you could have imagined and reveals similarities between the fictional and real world leaders.

In fact, every character in the series has a different approach towards leadership. There’s a self-righteous and reluctant leader in Jon Snow; cunning Peter Baelish is known for his backdoor machinations and there’s Sansa who’s learnt to defend Winterfell no less than a reigning queen and schemes with Littlefinger without Jon’s knowledge and is key in defeating the Boltons. Tommen until his death remains a wimpy, namesake king pawned first by his mother and later by his wife, Queen Margaery. Jaime on the contrary doesn’t seem to be bothered much about being a leader. He does what he does in the name of duty towards his lover Cersei and their children (who’re all dead now). Khaleesi, the mother of dragons makes for an incredible leader, but it is the little Lannister, Tyrion who earns our respect right and is revered by fans from the word go.

The Imp may be small in stature, but extremely competent. It is he who in his father’s absence defends King’s Landing from an attack led by Stannis Baratheon, but is never appreciated and still hated by Tywin. Tyrion may have his share of flaws, but is sound in judgement as a leader should be.

Here’s how you can learn a couple of lessons on leadership from him.

Promise what you deliver: Tyrion is often heard saying “A Lannister always pays his debts”, so much so that it almost sounds like the House motto, which it is not. Now, although this phrase has monetary connotations, but in a figurative sense applies to the workplace as well. An ideal leader delivers what he promises whether it is a thing as small as an outing if the team meets a goal, or as big as a promotion to a deserving candidate, or standing up for the team in times of trouble. This establishes credibility and helps build trust without which there’s no way a team can look up to their leader. 

 Don’t worry about others hogging limelight: When Tyrion is held captive in the sky cells in the Eyrie, he says to Mord, the gaoler in charge, “Listen to me. Sometimes possession is an abstract concept. When they captured me, they took my purse, but the gold is still mine.” This again has a different connotation in the series, but there’s a leadership lesson between the lines. Even if someone steals your credit, don’t stop working hard because your brain is still yours. It is capable of producing as many brilliant ideas as you want. You will get your due sooner or later.

 Know your strengths and weaknesses: Tyrion in one episodic meeting with Jon gives him counsel for he knows that both of them are outcasts - one a dwarf, other a bastard (or not?). He says, “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” Tyrion is scorned by his father and sister, but never for once proves them right for he may not know how to fight with a sword, but with words, for sure. Similarly you should act upon your strengths, know your weaknesses and never stop being yourself in the face of adversity.  That’s your only weapon in the world of debauchery and competition!

Knowledge is above everything else: When Jon asks Tyrion why he reads so much, Tyrion quickly says, “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone”. The message is simple. Stay informed whether it is knowledge in books or learning lessons from mentors or knowing things about competitors. That is the only thing that can come to one’s rescue.  It is his military mindfulness and political strategizing that is recognized by Daenerys which he displays at Meereen. Unlike Tywin, she doesn’t bother about his dwarfism and instead recognizes his acumen and appoints him in her counsel of advisors.

 Listen as much as you love to talk: Tyrion loves to talk and when required speaks the language of sarcasm in a way that it stings! But when he listens, he does so with all his heart and ear! Now that’s a sign of a good leader though less of sarcasm is always helpful! The dwarf can judge people and delegates work to them on the basis of their weaknesses or strengths, which makes him a great team player as well. No wonder Varys trusts him and so do Missandei and Grey Worm once he becomes an advisor to Daenerys. Dany also overlooks Tyrion’s error of judgement in her absence when the Masters end up attacking Meereen. She know she needs a leader like him in reclaiming the Iron Throne.

(The writer is brand manager, Work Better).

 
 
 
 
 

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