HBO’s Game of Thrones outstanding season 7 is now over. Winter is finally here and the battle for the Iron Throne and of all that is living rages on. From Winterfell to Dorne, the characters are busy building their armies, plotting their revenge, and knowingly to some, waiting for the impending horde of White Walkers to arrive on their doorsteps. Even though there are many different types of leaders in Westeros and Essos, each of the major players can teach us an important business lessons.
An important skill in an entrepreneur’s toolkit is the ability to remain flexible at all times. Recognizing the needs of the business as it changes stems from multiple sources, both internal and external. A good entrepreneur must identify common dysfunctional habits, understand methods for overcoming such behaviors, and identify factors to help create a receptive environment for change. Tyrion Lannister is the master of changing course as he can never be outwitted. At countless points throughout the series, he manages to turn his less than desirable situations into positive ones. An inexperienced warrior forced to lead the defense at the Battle of Blackwater, he manages to destroy a large part of the enemy’s fleet with minimal casualties of his own men through the creative use of wildfire. Captured by Jorah Mormont on his way to Meereen, Tyrion is delivered to Daenerys as a “gift” to be executed. However, he manages to not only stay alive, but to become her key adviser.
In order to improve and innovate, entrepreneurs must continuously reflect and learn from past experiences, both good and bad. By acquiring, interpreting, and applying information from these experiences in the right ways, good entrepreneurs can improve their skills to drive the business forward. I am almost sure any of the remaining members of House Stark would confirm, you must learn from your mistakes as well as from your father’s, mother’s and older brother’s mistakes in order to survive. Perhaps the quickest learner of them all is Arya Stark. From a reluctant lady-in-training to a seasoned assassin, she’s made a huge leap since the start of the series.
Decision-making is another entrepreneurial skill that involves social, political and emotional factors, as well as reason and fact-based analysis. Good entrepreneurs must recognize the pros and cons of each option and take into account all of these factors when evaluating which path will result in the best outcome. Daenerys Targaryen is no stranger to consequences. Liberating an entire region of slaves, wiping out all of the Dothraki Khals in existence, and planning a coup in King’s Landing does not come without repercussions. Along her journey from exile to Queen of Meereen, she learned that decision making is a delicate balance that requires not only finding the greatest good for all parties involved, but also planning for the short and long term.
At a basic level, entrepreneurship can be defined as coordinated action in pursuit of performance. entrepreneurs at all levels and functions must design, direct, and shape various workflows and processes in order to move the business towards its goals. Petyr Baelish (popularly known as Littlefinger) knows this better than perhaps anyone else in the entire Seven Kingdoms. Whether he is accruing political blackmail as Master of Coin in King’s Landing, arranging strategic marriage proposals, or plotting his way to become Lord Protector of the Vale, each action he takes is part of a calculated process to move him further along on his quest for power. Though he may have to adjust his strategy along the way, he understands that his success will ultimately rely on a series of carefully coordinated actions with multiple players involved. I think that I am not the only fan that can’t wait to see what his end-game truly is.
Entrepreneurs are often faced with challenging endeavors which they need to overcome. As entrepreneurs are working on developing influence and credibility, the best approach is to focus on the delivery fundamentals, resolve issues and deliver values to gain confidence and trust. Jon Snow, the illegitimate son of Eddard Stark gets the cold shoulder from his stepmother and leaves the family to join the motley brotherhood of the Night’s Watch. Familiar with being the outsider, Jon Snow exhibits patience, perseverance, tremendous skill and eventually wins over his brothers who turn to him for leadership. By introducing new ideas, delivering value and building influence and credibility, entrepreneurs can see their own ideas flourish. Remember to develop your influence and credibility with each connection you make.
With all these lessons, it makes me wonder which Game of Thrones character would make a good entrepreneur. If you ask me, I would put all my Gold Dragons on Tyrion as I know that he would find a way to achieve the goal despite all the obstacles.