Game of Thrones careers guide
GAME of Thrones is back. HBO’S most popular series in the television network’s history will return for its fifth season, casting us once again into a glorious, violent, lust-fuelled Westeros, where rivals continue their battle for the Iron Throne.
The Iron Throne is, of course, the ultimate symbol of power. Being anywhere near it is a dangerous business. Over the past four seasons we have watched as one king was gored by a wild boar and his malevolent successor was poisoned at his wedding feast. All the while the body count has mounted. One head after another has been hoisted on the pikes at King’s Landing while other victims have been roasted by dragon fire, stabbed, shot with arrows, scorched with molten gold and speared in the stomach.
If all this treachery sounds familiar, it may be that you are fighting your own real world Game of Thrones in the workplace or career. If that’s true, what career lessons should we take away from the shifting fortunes of the show’s key characters?
1 It’s dangerous to boast about family connections in the workplace Dashing, valiant, silver-tongued Jaime Lannister had all to play for at the start of the series. There were a few factors that made him untouchable. His strength and skill on the battlefield were one, but just as effective was his family purse. “A Lannister always pays his debts,” he reminded. Life was not just a struggle, it was also a business transaction.
Yet, it doesn’t always pay to boast. After being captured by Locke – a local warlord – Jaime attempts to barter his freedom, citing his family connections. A furious, Locke wheels around and, with a carving knife, chops off his right hand. It’s a scene that reminds us that no one likes a braggart at work, especially one who has forged their career paths through nepotism.
2 Make an effort to learn the language of the people you’re dealing with While much of the action has been fixed on King’s Landing in the opening four seasons, over the narrow sea Daenerys Targaryen has been steadily building her army. And in doing so the “khaleesi” has proved herself an adept leader. She is a humanitarian who aims to liberate rather than enslave, and one of her tricks has been to learn the native language of the people she encounters. It is a tactic that has served her well, first with the Dothraki horse-mounted warriors, then later with the Unsullied of Astapor. There, after a long negotiation process, she surprises the arrogant slave master Kraznys mo Nakloz, with a line of perfect Valyrian. Moments later he is barbequed by her dragon.
In monolingual Britain, Daenerys Targaryen’s lesson is a good one. It is well acknowledged that learning a second language will help an employee to stand out in the workplace. They might be called on at a vi- tal moment to negotiate or entertain and you would be particularly desirable if you spoke a modern business language such as Chinese or Japanese. The Economist has quantified the opportunity, calculating that speaking a second language can earn you around $70 000 (M761 000) extra in saving by retirement, while translation itself remains one of the fastest growing professions with a projected 46 percent increase by 2022.
5 Don’t forget to acknowledge those who do good work for you If one of the key tenets of management is knowing when to praise your staff, then the dysfunctional relationship between Tyrion Lannister and his father Tywin Lannister must be instructive for us all. The grand patriarch, the hand of the king, the holder of the family purse, for as long as Game of Thrones has been going, Tywin has been the pre-eminent figure of power, and towards his dwarf son he has always been hostile.
His admonishments had, by the end of season four, become a feature of every episode. “You are an ill-made, spiteful little creature, full of envy, lust and low cunning”, he would moan. Yet praise, now and then, goes a long way. It’s a thought that might well have flashed through Tywin’s mind when his privy door swung open at the end of season four. Tywin’s failure was his misjudgement of the question, “When should recognition and reward be linked?” — Guardian
HBO’S most popular series Game of Thrones.