Workforce & Workplace
What’s your Game of Thrones Management Style?
Steve Cox
Steve Cox

VP, Public Relations

Sodexo North America

The TV series Game of Thrones, which returned to HBO for a sixth season on Sunday, has hooked millions of viewers with its tale of the power struggle to rule the fictional kingdom of Westeros. With hundreds of characters and about as many plot twists, it’s as much a study of personality types as it is of leadership. The main characters’ paths and struggles can mirror leadership styles we see in our workplaces. Do you recognize yourself, your managers, or your colleagues in any of the leadership types below? (Mild spoilers ahead.)

Ned Stark—Selfless, humble and principled, Ned Starks are the unsung heroes and heroines of the office. They’re the ones who get things done without asking for praise and never take more vacation days than they’re allowed. Their keen sense of fairness makes them beloved as managers or Wardens of the North. Ned Starks usually rise high, but never to the top because they shy away from the spotlight. You’ll usually find them running an important but unglamorous section of the business/country.

Daenerys Targaryen—Naturally talented, Daeneryses have a special skill that no one else can offer, like amazingly creative ideas, a brilliant technical mind, or dragons. Praised from a young age for their specialness, Daeneryses can sometimes be arrogant but are usually well-meaning. Many try to live up to their potential, seeking counsel from powerful mentors as they struggle to come into their own: Think Mark Zuckerberg hiring Sheryl Sandberg.

Jon Snow – As managers, Jon Snows prefer to learn by doing. They’ll often jump into a project knowing nothing and figure it out as they go, relying on their wits and instinct to steer them. This can get them into trouble: When their bravery outstrips their knowledge they can end up in over their head and North of the Wall. In sticky situations, Jon Snows always take care of their employees before they take care of themselves. They’ll be the last ones on the boats when White Walkers attack your Wildling camp. This wins Jon Snows a lot of friends, and popular support can boost them to positions of leadership very quickly.

Robert Baratheon—The Robert Baratheons of the office did one amazing thing several years ago and have been riding high on that achievement ever since. Instead of building from their accomplishment, they’ve spent the last decade or two enjoying the perks of leadership without producing or overthrowing anything new. By the time you meet a Robert Baratheon, his signature achievement is probably quickly losing relevance, but he’s been out of the game so long that he’s the last to realize it.

Joffrey Baratheon—This type of manager is so focused on himself that he treats employees terribly. Joffreys think nothing of mass layoffs or making employees work on Christmas. You may start to wonder if they have any feelings at all. They may talk a lot about the importance of their leadership, but when there’s a crisis, Joffreys tend to run and hide, letting more competent employees fight their battles for them. If you work for a Joffrey, keep your head down, hold on and wait. They usually don’t stay in power long.

Do you recognize any of these leadership types? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Steve Cox leads Public Relations for Sodexo North America with $9B in annual revenue, 125,000 employees, 9,000 operating sites and 15 million consumers served daily.


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9 comments on “What’s your Game of Thrones Management Style?

  • Christine Janeczek says:

    Very entertaining article. Encourages managers to be introspective. I laughed and learned. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Yadira Murga says:

    As a big fan of Game of Thrones… I have thought all this before. Great to know I am not the only one that thinks of work environment while watching GOT.

    Reply
  • Jeff Hanaway says:

    This was great, a new more relevant way to identify what type of management professional you are. Kudos on a well written article!

    Reply
  • Love the article! Loving GOT!
    I have to say I have been lucky so far in my career to meet more Starks, Snows and Targaryens and they tend to rub off on others 🙂

    Reply
  • Syreeta Thibodeaux says:

    I love game of thrones and I loved this article. I can’t wait to read an article titled what your “Walking Dead” leadership style or what is your game of thrones team member style.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  • Francisco Fimbres says:

    Tyrion Lannister is my favorite character and appreciate his style of governance.

    “My brother has his sword, King Robert has his warhammer and I have my mind…and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge. That’s why I read so much Jon Snow.”
    ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones via Tyrion Lannister

    Information – feedback – what some may call business intelligence is key to success. Know thy employees and customers.

    http://time.com/3835039/game-of-thrones-leadership-lessons/

    Reply
  • Sharon Dutcher says:

    I have never seen the TV series but I am aware of it. Great article. I love stuff like this because it keeps me in check. I think we can all think of someone in our sphere of influence that fits each style. For the most part, my leadership style mirrors Ned Starks but, I can see where it could overlap into other styles depending on the circumstance (ie. Jon Snow).

    Reply
  • Richard Sabatos says:

    Very well written article. Good reading. I have watched Game of Thrones but I watched it enough to know all the characters. Reading Mr. Cox’s article I see my management skills as a combination of Ned Stark and Jon snow. I have always taken care of my employees first before my needs. I also sometimes take on projects not knowing what I’m getting into but with perseverance get it figured out in the end. Once again a well written insight by Mr. Cox.

    Reply

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