Leadership Communication Depictions in Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is an 8 season HBO television series based on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novels of the same title. It takes place in Westeros’ Seven Kingdoms, where great Houses compete for control of the all-powerful Iron Throne. The world of Game of Thrones is similar to the workplace, except there are more dragons. The characters have varying levels of influence, influence is determined by their social standing and/or wealth. The only character who had no social standing in the episodes I watched was Cerise Lannister. The only person who comes close to having the same level of influence in Game of Thrones as they would in a normal workplace is Daenerys Targaryen, even though she doesn’t have any control over anything. In real life, they’d call it “power”. Also, Daenerys wasn’t around much during season one. She came back two seasons later and she was more powerful than ever. She helped claim the Iron Throne for her family at that point.
The characters that have the most influence are the ones who are either wealthy and/or claim ownership of a very powerful position. They use this influence to their advantage. In one scenario, Cerise Lannister tried getting out of having to marry someone she didn’t want to marry. She tried using her wealth as leverage, but it didn’t work. Anyone who tries to use their wealth as a way out of something is probably going to get outsmarted, because the other person is going to see through that and figure out some other occasion to get out of it. You’ve got to have a plan B and be prepared for anything.
The leadership communication between Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister is examined to see how they both have found their redemption through developing a mutual respect for one another. Jaime Lannister is seen as being an abusive boy who never grew up, but instead became an abusive man with power. He had no shame in his actions, believing that he was entitled to do whatever he pleased without repercussion (Yu, & Campbell, 2021). As time passed, his actions grew worse towards himself and those around him, with no redeeming qualities to speak of except for his ability to withstand torture without breaking.
Brienne had been married off as a child to the Lannister family by her father, with no idea of what she was getting into. Like Jaime, she too had no shame for what she did and how she acted. We see Brienne grow from her first impressions; when she arrives in King’s Landing, we see her determined to keep her vow to the Starks, but not necessarily the honorable man that Jaime is. She goes on a secret mission and helps capture Tyrion Lannister, whilst leaving Jaime out of it. The characters also try to manipulate each other for their own personal gain. Sometimes they cheat or steal from one another. Sometimes they help each other out when it counts. Sometimes they’re just trying to stand in the way of someone else’s success. Cerise Lannister wasn’t much of a manipulator, she just let other people manipulate her instead of doing it herself (Yu, & Campbell, 2021). In real life, we’d call that “being a patsy”. She let them use her for their own personal gain.
Many characters are defying their social status and trying to live the “high life” because the life of a commoner is extremely boring and no one cares about them. They want to be something they’re not just because they want the glory that comes with being in a higher position. The lead character of Game of Thrones, aka King of the North Jon Snow, is an orphan that was taken in by the Starks (who are an extremely wealthy family). Instead of doing his chores and waiting for Lord Stark to die so he could inherit his wealth, Jon decides to join a band of mercenaries and fight for gold. This is similar to someone who doesn’t have any power over anything. In real life, we would call this “being a sellout” (Yu, & Campbell, 2021). Unlike Daenerys, who’s trying to reclaim her rightful place as the rightful heir, Jon wants more power simply for personal gain.
Game of Thrones demonstrates the dangers of leadership communication mistakes like boasting about power, not taking responsibility for failure, and bullying. In real life, we can learn from Brienne’s perseverance and determination to keep her oath to the Starks, Jaime’s ability to listen and understand others, as well as Tyrion’s uncanny ability to always be in good spirits when facing adversity. Leadership communication is often misunderstood in the workplace and among peers. Rather than focus on a single communication style, great leaders develop flexible leadership styles that make them more adaptable to different situations. As communicators, they are able to identify the right tactics and strategies for a given situation.
Game of Thrones depicts leaders who are specifically skilled in one or two areas but limited in others. By studying their strengths and weaknesses, we can determine how specific traits affect leadership communication styles. Daenerys Targaryen is a great example of an ineffective leader with an inflated sense of self-importance who has difficulty listening because she is so convinced her way is best. Her inability to get along with other leaders in the Game of Thrones series causes her to lose valuable allies. Daenerys Targaryen’s lack of leadership communication skills can be attributed to a lack of understanding about good leadership communication traits (Yu, & Campbell, 2021).
Application to real-life leadership communication; do’s
leadership communication requires active listening and communication skills.
communication requires strategy planning, active listening, and empathy
strategy planning involves the ability to discern the message content of others in order to assess their needs, goals, feelings and expectations prior to presenting (or refraining from) speaking.
Yu, H. H., & Campbell, T. M. (2021). Teaching leadership theory with television: Useful lessons from Game of Thrones. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 27(2), 141-175.