Game of Thrones Finale – The final leadership lesson?

Game of Thrones Finale – The final leadership lesson?


There are people that have never watched a single episode and I guess that if you are reading this then you have either watched every episode (as I have…some twice!!) or have at least watched some intermittently and have half an idea of what is going on.

I’ll be honest, I don’t really watch much TV…apart from Game of Thrones which I find totally compelling. My wife and I were late comers admittedly, until we bought the box set 4 years ago of series 1-4 and then binge watched the lot on a wet and windy UK Summer sailing holiday!

Anyway, if you were not already aware, this coming Monday shows the very last episode of this epic story – distressing as this is for all you superfans. Our American cousins get to see it first unless of course you stay up till stupid o’clock to watch it in the UK.

So, the most recent update is that Queen Daenerys Targaryen assembled her armies at Kings Landing and toppled the rule of Cersei Lannister, along with a major kill off of a number of major characters. After all these years playing the Game of Thrones, Deanarys would appear to have won. But, she seems to have deteriorated psychologically, and, using her last remaining dragon, pretty much destroyed the city with wildfire, killing thousands of innocents in a misdirected vengeful rage, possibly fuelled by the death of her second dragon and the beheading of one of her closest aides, Missandei, not to mention the rebuffing by her lover, Jon Snow. Is a leadership challenge on the cards?

After all these years, we have seen Daenerys, a compassionate but ruthless leader transform almost overnight into a mentally unstable super villain deciding that unnecessary mass slaughter was an appropriate course of action.

I don’t know about you, but I find it disappointing that such a strong leader has descended to such a low. But she is Targaryen and the gods flip a coin as to whether they turn into a wrong en, after all.

Jon Snow is the rightful heir to the Iron throne and everyone in the seven kingdoms wants him as their leader, not Deanerys. He is a compassionate war hero, a survivor, thoughtful and considered. He uses a good balance of objective and subjective thinking (head and heart) to make decisions. People love him, he makes decisions based on what is right for the majority and not what is right for him or others that may try to sway him into mis directed decision making. He is humble, has a sense of humour, a compassionate chameleon and is able to engage at all levels but above all, a true man of the people.

He has grit. He can make hard decisions that are painful at the time but support the greater good. He is a true leader but does not want to be the King and so does not want the job of overall leadership. However, he is the only one that has every natural skill and capability to do the job. He is the ideal leadership candidate when judged against any or all of the other candidates that we have seen come and go over the last 8 years or so.

So, it looks to be a two-horse race between Deanerys, who’s whole life has been spent fighting to be Queen, but, now it would seem will likely turn out to be a disastrous leader versus Jon Snow who would be a the perfect leader but has never wanted the job in the first place.

Now, let’s turn this story into a modern-day scenario in a company, a SaaS company if you will…..


So, there is an open role for a leader in your company. We have the opportunity to hire internally which is always the better option if available. Do we hire what appears to be the obvious person for the job? The top sales performer in fact. After all, they desperately want it and it would be an easy way to solve the problem as the team needs someone in place urgently to support them and there are targets to hit. They may well be the best person!

But are there other options available? Have we spent time analysing other members of our teams? Perhaps the quieter ones with a solid but perhaps not overly stellar sales performance that has not shown a desire for a future leadership career path, but, in fact has all those naturally occurring behavioural traits that make them very appropriate to be a future leader? Has that person perhaps not recognised in themselves their potential for an exceptional leadership career? Are they the Jon Snow of the future? Do they need encouragement? Have we identified this person a few years back and spent time cultivating and nurturing?

There have been so many papers comparing GOT to modern day leadership in business as there are many parallels but to me the major takeaway as we close out at the end of this epic story is this.

I’m not saying that we should push people before they are ready or indeed try to make someone take a job if they don’t want it, but as CEO’s, MD’s and owners of SaaS companies, we need to be constantly on the lookout for home grown leadership talent so we can try to promote from within and create the cultures that make us and our companies unique.  We need to create a lasting legacy in our organisations and support succession planning by identification of potential future leaders and nurturing them for when that opportunity arises.

A masterclass in the cultivation of leadership is beyond the scope of this article but I see that there are few ways that we can help to cultivate great leadership potential in our teams.

  • Help people to lead themselves so they are not constantly or overly reliant upon you. Dare people to dream big, learn big and achieve what might be just out of reach.
  • Empower your people and potential leaders of the future to produce results that are well beyond the average or the norm. Create an environment where people commit to do things that are extraordinary. Create an exceptional vision that is possible to achieve but requires a stretch. Your leaders of the future will buy in and do their damdest to achieve. It’s a marathon not a sprint, if someone falls short but the behaviours were there, that’s good too.
  • In your teams, look for those that can be more than a colleague or subordinate. Identify those that you can work with in a much deeper way where they work with you, not for you. Subtle difference in the wording but dramatic difference in the meaning.
  • Encourage your team to take responsibility and accountability for all that they do. Your future leaders will do both.

As leaders ourselves, we have a duty of care to support our colleagues in being the best that they can be and to identify the Jon Snow’s of the SaaS world. After all, it’s all about leadership……especially when winter comes!

Please drop me a line if you are looking to hire the Jon Snow’s of the SaaS world –

PS Humans can be unreliable – Please don’t let that be you Jon Snow! I guess we’ll know on Monday?


Credits – Shutterstock


Are you interested in attending a future event or perhaps a speaking engagement.

Get In Touch