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Four Lessons from “Game of Thrones” for the Office

I love “Game of Thrones” (GoT). I mean, I really love it. I watch the TV show, I’m reading the books, I read all the articles, and now I’m listening to a podcast about the series. Happily, I do remain grounded in the fact that it’s not real. HOWEVER, I do think there may be some lessons for those of Iron Throne.


If you don’t follow GoT, suffice it to say that there are a bunch of families competing and plotting against each other to rule the kingdom. The show is filled with conspiracies, betrayals, tests of loyalty, and an occasional back stabbing. Sound like a day at the office? I’m kidding, of course. But I do think the series has some good lessons for us all, especially those of us in the communications profession.

Always pay your debts.

One of the main families in GoT is the Lannisters – a horrible, very dysfunctional family, to put it mildly. They often say, “A Lannister always pays his debts,” and they certainly don’t always use this phrase positively. However, it is good advice in the workplace. Follow through on your commitments. Do what you say you’re going to do. At the end of the day your reputation is all you have, and this fundamental value is key to establishing your relationships with coworkers, vendors, executives and customers.

Winter is coming.

Another key family in the GoT world is the noble Starks. On the show, seasons can last generations, and the characters on the show have been enjoying summer for many years. The Starks are fond of reminding everyone – quite frequently – that “Winter is coming.” And it is. Hard times are coming – that’s life, and so we need to be prepared. Make sure you have a crisis communications plan – what would “winter” look like for your organization? Create a succession plan for you and your key team members. Keep abreast of current issues and hot topics and understand how those can impact your organization.

What is dead may never die.

There are several religions on GoT, and one of them worships the Drowned God. As a part of that religion, the baptism ritual includes drowning followers who are then resurrected. The faithful say this phrase quite often as a sign of their faith. But to me, the meaning of this quote has absolutely nothing to do with its context in the show. Every time I hear it, I think of it as another way of saying never burn bridges. I’m a strong believer in that philosophy. When you leave a job, when you finish a project – you never know when you will need something from experience again. It has been fascinating to me throughout my career that people I thought I would never see or work with again have come back into my life. So the next time a recent graduate wants to talk about the job market, or you’d like to ignore that request from a former co-worker, take the time to help them out.

Never underestimate women.

In GoT, see Brienne, Sansa and Daenerys. These women did not start out as key players in the game, and have been victimized beyond words. But as the show progresses, these women are turning out to be some of the strongest characters in the kingdom, and may end up on the Iron Throne. In the real world, women are fighting for equal pay and a seat on the board. We may not have dragons and swords, but we have bottom line results to make our case. So women, support other women. And men, recognize our strengths and empower us in the game.

As the Dothraki say, Me nem nesa. It is known.


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