Few shows on the air have as many strong, intelligent and determined characters as Game of Thrones. They’re some of the most captivating bosses we’ve ever seen. And while we might not know which boss’s strategy is good enough to earn the title of King (or Queen, *ahem* Daenerys) of the Seven Kingdoms, we think each of them has a lesson to teach us. Here are some of the most memorable. Psst: If you’re not caught up, don’t read this. You’ve been warned.
Earn their trust.
When Daenerys was sold to the Dothraki and couldn’t communicate with her new husband, Khal Drogo (RIP), or any of his people, she didn’t just accept that as her new reality—nor did she expect them to cater to her. She learned their language. By the time season 7 begins, Daenerys has gotten them to follow her through various countries and across the sea—something no Dothraki had ever done—to fight for her cause. Add in the army of the Unsullied and people from families who are supposed to want her dead, and you’ve got yourself one powerhouse of a boss.
None of this would have happened without Daenerys having earned the respect and loyalty of all these people by learning how to talk to each of them.
Lesson Learned: You can’t make people listen by saying the same thing in the same way—you have to adjust the way you approach conversations and requests to reach people where they are.
Jon Snow has fought White Walkers, made an alliance with the Wildlings, died and came back to life, named the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, been elected the King of the North… and just so happens to be the true heir to the Iron Throne.
But he doesn’t want or need any of the titles or admiration. Jon Snow (or should we say Aegon Targaryen) is content just being a bastard who saves people from the undead. He’s dedicated to a cause: protecting people. And because of his dedication and humility, he continues to earn the respect and admiration a true boss deserves.
Lesson Learned: Don’t let the power get to your head. People respond well to those who don’t know how great they truly are (or at least don’t flaunt it if they do).
Know when it’s time to change direction.
Look: you don’t get to choose your family. Sometimes, you just end up with a tough dad and siblings who won’t let anyone get between their *special* bond. There’s a lot to be said for familial loyalty, but when your family’s a bummer, it’s okay to explore other ways of thinking.
No, we’re not recommending that you murder your father in cold blood or reveal your siblings’ weaknesses to their enemies. Just that you don’t have to continue on the path you started on. Look at Tyrion now compared to the first season. He’s expanded his world view, learned how to live without wine and hookers, and made peace with people he was “supposed” to hate. Now, that’s progress.
Lesson Learned: If you find that you are no longer on course, pave a new one for yourself.
Keep your standards high.
Part of being a boss is expecting those around you to do their best—holding them to high standards because you know they are capable of so much greatness. Cersei—though a ruthless and misguided *insert bad word here*—knows what she wants and will accept nothing less.
A great boss would empower her employees, subjects and advisors to do their best with the tools, resources and support they need to do so. Cersei may be flawed in the support department, but she sure knows how to set standards and ensure they’re met, so we have to respect that.
Lesson Learned: Expect the best from your team—and make sure you’re giving them the support they need to thrive.
Develop a thick skin.
The Stark sisters couldn’t be more different—and, yet, they’ve both experienced hell over the seasons and managed to come out stronger, smarter and more resilient. Watching their family members die, being sold and abused and tortured, we could go on…
A typical person would let these events destroy them—wallowing in self-pity, turning to unhealthy vices, embracing the dark side, etc. But these sisters both channeled their pain and rage into improving themselves and becoming forces to reckon with.
Lesson Learned: Be like Arya and Sansa; learn how to use setbacks to your advantage.