HBO's Game of Thrones is a simple story of the battle to be the best

Betrayal, mind games and false flattery. Is this the description of the power plays among leaders and wannabe leaders in your office, or is it the theme behind HBO’s blockbuster Game of Thrones?

Maybe it’s both.

Leadership lessons on winning, getting to the top, treating people well (or not) and managing underlings (even interns) are imperative for fictional worlds and real offices alike. Read what these two LinkedIn Influencers had to say about the topic this week.

Jeff Haden, owner BlackBird Media

“When George RR Martin wrote the Song of Ice and Fire novels, it's unlikely his intention was for them to become self-help books for entrepreneurs seeking leadership advice. Full of gratuitous violence, incest, black magic and dragons, the books don't bear much resemblance to real life,” wrote Haden in his post, Four Leadership Lessons from Game of Thrones. “Take these factors away, however, and HBO's Game of Thrones is a simple story of the battle to be the best: the best warrior, the best leader, and the best kingdom.”

What leadership lessons can you learn from the Seven Kingdoms? Haden offers four of the most compelling. Among them:

“Vigilance is a virtue. The eighth episode of season four… centres on a seemingly unwinnable fight between the distinctly average-size Prince Oberyn and his giant-like opponent Ser Gregor... Oberyn's agility means he's able to run rings around his larger competitor. Unfortunately, he also suffers from a momentary lapse of concentration, and Gregor seizes his chance to end the prince's life.

Brutal, sure, but in business terms there's a simple lesson to be learned: always stay alert and focused on the job at hand.”

“Fortune favours the brave. The Dothraki should have made formidable opponents. Yet the Lannisters, Starks, and Baratheons weren't afraid of them for one simple reason: the Dothraki were scared of the sea, and everyone knew it... The Dothraki's fear rendered them impotent, stuck in a rut, and unable to grow or become more powerful,” explained Haden.

“In tech terms, they were the BlackBerry of the series: a big player in its own world but arguably oblivious to the opportunities in the land of touchscreen phones. All the while, its rival, Apple, was setting sail to explore new territories.,” he wrote. The result: Apple has soared, BlackBerry has fizzled.

“Never underestimate yourself. If you've ever watched Game of Thrones, you're familiar with the saying, ‘You know nothing, Jon Snow.’ Ironically, it couldn't be much further from the truth. The illegitimate son of Lord Eddard Stark, Snow has quickly risen from being the black sheep of the family to become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch,” explained Haden. “Not only is he brave, clever, and quick thinking, but the brooding hero also believes in himself and isn't afraid to follow his instincts — qualities that every good leader needs by the bucket load. As a result, he's won the respect of nearly everyone around him.”

“So while other men in the Seven Kingdoms were busy getting drunk or sleeping with their sister or plotting unthinkable acts of violence, Snow emerged as someone to watch in the battle for the Iron Throne,” Haden wrote. “He's both the ultimate underdog and proof you should never underestimate yourself.”

David Beebe, vice president global creative content marketing at Marriott International

Just as kings in Game of Thrones can be overthrown by hitherto minor characters, so can top executives. Keep that in mind when you bring interns aboard. Treat their (often free) work with respect.

In short, that image of summer staffers fetching coffee and copying papers is just that — an image that should be filed away.

“The responsibilities of interns and the structure of intern programs vary by company,” wrote Beebe in his post Why Your Intern Shouldn’t Be Getting You Coffee. “It’s critical to think about how to learn from interns and how to connect with them.”

So, what are some of the best ways to lead your interns this summer? Beebe offered eight tips. Among them:

“Familiarise them. No matter how small or large your company, it’s important interns go through orientation, learn the history, the core values, the departments, etc.,” wrote Beebe. “It may be old hat for you, but it’s not for them.”

Don't ignore them. If you don't have work set aside, don't assume someone else will find work,” he wrote.

Immerse them in the meetings (where it makes sense). Tell them up front that they are free to speak up, contribute and share their thoughts,” Beebe advised. “They are there to learn, as you are to learn from them — they shouldn’t be relegated to a corner.”

“Give feedback to your interns. Don’t assume they know what’s good and bad,” he wrote. “For many this is their first experience in the workforce and they need consistent feedback.”

“Assign a long term project. Outside of meetings and day-to-day projects, assign them and other interns or associates a project that they can work on over the span on their internship and present to your teams,” Beebe wrote.

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