For most fans of the epic show, Game of Thrones, the obvious thrills are in the scheming of the dominant characters from the realms of the seven kingdoms, their underlings, and the trail of blood, gore, and destruction that the conflict leaves. However, there is much more to learn from the series than the art of war, subterfuge, and court wrangling. As much as Westeros is full of danger and intrigue, there are numerous lessons that career professionals can pick up and adapt to their everyday living. Here are five fundamental lessons from HBO’s Game of Thrones series that will serve you well in any workplace environment.
1. Nurture your network
One thing every power player in Westeros has in spades is a healthy network, sometimes that network might fail and sometimes it might not be enough, but it almost always makes a difference. Lord Vary’s network of "little birds" is the source of his longevity despite the current occupant of the Iron Throne. Apart from a superb network, how else could Bronn, a common mercenary, land a plush job as commander of the city watch in King’s Landing without an extensive interview process?
The network you build ultimately determines how high you climb in a career. Your network is always the best way to keep yourself in a cushy job or to find yourself a new one if things ever get too prickly. Take the time to prune and nurture your network towards the achievement of long-term goals. Carefully look over your contacts, identify those with a special value and maintain a healthy rapport with them, it could be from little gestures such as wishing someone a happy birthday when you don’t have to do so, or sending an e-gift card in commemoration of a professional or personal anniversary. The little gestures matter when your aim is to keep your network healthy.
2. Information is priceless
Aside from the members of the ruling houses, all the power players in Westeros are those with the easiest access to information because they are not afraid to pay for it. The relevance of information is hardly surprising, especially in a society that is absent of any concept close to the internet. If you need any more evidence, ask Petyr "Little finger" Baelish and Lord Varys "the spider". If Westeros were to have been present day society, these men would have been Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg, imagine the possibilities with such power.
With few jobs available and such fierce competition to get them, having first access to trends and twists in the job market is key. Getting early wind of new positions or extra opportunities being created in your workplace or industry could be the difference between having a plush job and being left empty-handed. Don’t hesitate to spend money on keeping up-to-date with the latest trends in your industry.
3. Adaptability is vital for survival
Arguably, no one in the seven kingdoms has been forced to learn, and quickly too, as much as Daenerys Targaryen . From an innocent little girl and cowering baby sister, to the most feared and ruthless ruler across the seven seas, breaker of chains, mother of dragons and Khaleesi of the Dothraki. The transformation was drastic, but necessary for her survival. Against all the odds, she survived.
In any new career environment, watch and learn. Be good to those who can help you become familiar with the workings of your new surroundings. Find a mentor who can teach you the ropes and learn like your life depends on it. Many times, it does.
4. Complacency Can be Deadly
Oberyn Martell was a feisty character, and in his short appearances on the stage of Westeros, we all came to love his charisma. What was there to hate? He loved to have fun, drink, laugh, make love, and make war. And he could fight excellently well, maybe a little too well, or at least he thought so, his supreme confidence proved his death knell. In his duel with the man-mountain, Gregor Clegane, Oberyn was at the height of his flashy best and easily tamed the mountain against the odds, but as a result of complacency he failed to finish the job.
The lesson for us; never rest on your laurels, always remain on your toes, and never believe you’re the only one who can do a job. There are others out there who want the same opportunities you have and who would take drastic measures to replace you. Finish a job before you brag about it and do it when it is still in your hands. Don’t roll out the champagne glasses before the job is done and definitely don’t get carried away with little achievements, celebrate the little things, yes, but don’t get carried away.
5. Value partnerships that match your goals
In a chaotic society like Westeros, alliances are quickly made and broken again. Who would have thought Arya Stark would form an alliance with the vile hound whose master, evil king Joffery, beheaded her father, Lord Eddard Stark. Even if it ended as soon as the right opportunity came, it was still awesome while it lasted. Despite her personal feelings, Arya knew she needed the hound to survive and go on to accomplish her long-term goals.
In the shark-infested corporate world, we should be ready to make temporary alliances that suit our long-term goals, even if our personal feelings are to the contrary. You’ll need those "unholy" alliances if you’re to ever make your way to the top.
There are many more lessons to be learned and applied to workplace experience from the popular series and these tips are just the tip of the iceberg. Getting into a career is just the start of a long, hard, process that requires many years of strategy and planning.