Anyone who claims they don’t watch TV is probably lying. Anyone who claims that they don’t wish they were more like their favorite TV character is also probably lying. Whether you wish you could be transported back to the times of Don Draper, deal with a bad boss with the style of Andy Sachs, or be as eloquent as Will McAvoy, you admire the way they get things done. Alternatively, maybe you just love watching TV and your lack of job hunt success is because you aren’t making proper use of that passion.
You might think there isn’t much of a connection between television and business outside reality shows like Shark Tank, but this article is here to tell you that you’re wrong with three examples of TV shows whose leadership ideas you might unconsciously be imitating. That’s the strange thing about role models; it’s often the ones who are focusing on their own thing that are more successful than the ones constantly delivering dry lectures.
So, take a minute to think about your favorite shows. Once you’ve decided who you hope you’re like, read on to see if I’ve mentioned them and if it truly is an accurate description of you. Don’t forget to read the ones you think aren’t you, too – you never know when you might be pleasantly surprised.
1. Game of Thrones
What? Did you think I was only going to talk about boring reality shows? Nope. Jon Snow might know nothing, but he does know a thing or two about being a leader. And you might not have a dragon, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t like Daenerys in other ways. Let’s see how you might be like some of your favorite characters:
- You Understand Your Customers – If you understand that "different" and "outsider" don’t have to be bad things, then you, too, have accepted who you are and wear it like armor. You use your unique perspective to your advantage in order to understand your customers in ways your competition can’t. Just like Lord Commander Jon, you’re a CEO who people can identify with because you were once a bastard regular person just like them.
- You Never Underestimate Anyone – What was the first thing Daenerys did as a leader? Got an army, "gave away" her dragon, and then ordered the dragon to kill the fool who underestimated her. What was the first thing Blockbuster did when Netflix appeared? Nothing, because they didn’t think they were a threat. Daenerys is the clear winner here, and if you’re like her, then you know you should never underestimate anyone: they all have weaknesses that you can use to your advantage, or they might just be sheep in wolf’s clothing.
- You’re Not Obsessed with Proving Yourself – Tywin once told Joffrey that if he has to tell people he’s king, then he isn’t really king. A king (or good business owner) is someone who cares about their people and knows that actions speak louder than words. Like Tywin (and unlike Joffrey), you know that success isn’t everything; you still need to be likeable and shouldn’t get so obsessed with proving yourself that you forget to have a work-life balance.
- You Never Break Your Promises – Robb Stark is the example you don’t want to follow; he found out the hard way that you shouldn’t break a promise when his enemies… crashed his wedding. You know that you should never make promises you can’t keep, which is exactly how you keep your customers happy so they don’t lose faith in you and stop doing business with you – thereby putting your business in the red. (Red. Get it?)
2. Mad Men
Just because the title is "Men" and sexism and gender dynamics at the time meant it was widely believed that women couldn’t – or shouldn’t – advance in their careers doesn’t mean that the women didn’t do a thing or two to prove everyone wrong. Peggy managed it all those years ago when everyone was trying to hold her back, and here are some ways you might be following in her footsteps:
- You’re Indispensable – Everyone knows just how invaluable you are and how much they would suffer if you weren’t there; you know that the best way to keep your business going is to convince your customers that they can’t live without you.
- You Keep it Professional – Unlike the disaster of Megan’s birthday party for Don, or Jon Snow making the mistake of mixing Night’s Watch business with the pleasure of Ygritte, you know that scandals are best left to television shows. Relationships in your workplace always retain their professionalism, and perhaps you even have a "no fraternization" rule in place.
- You Aim High – Just like Peggy, you aren’t afraid of putting in the hard work necessary to defy expectations and work your way up from secretary where you "belong" to copywriter where you know you deserve to be. You have the determination and self-belief to accomplish anything you set your mind to.
3. The Big Bang Theory
If you can run your business like a fantasy show, then there’s no reason why you can’t be like a comedy, too. Any good comedian will tell you that comedy comes from simply putting a funny spin on everyday things we don’t usually think about, and that’s exactly where The Big Bang Theory gets its premise – four friends who struggle to understand the world and fit in with people who aren’t like them. The one thing they all have in common is their excellence at their work, and here’s how you might be just like the brilliant Sheldon Cooper:
- You Persevere – Sheldon is Sheldon and would never dream of being anyone else. He does everything he does without ever sacrificing who he is (even if he sometimes should) and eventually succeeds, even if people decide he’s crazy in the process. Just like him, you never adapt more than necessary or let yourself be pressured into doing anything you’re not comfortable with.
- You Know When to Take a Break – We laugh at Sheldon’s insistence that there be a designated comic book night, but it’s actually a sign that he knows that even the hardest worker should take breaks to indulge their hobbies. You, too, play as hard as you work because you know that you should always make time for the things you love whether it’s a game night, comic books, or family.
- You Don’t Take Any Shortcuts – Here’s a fun fact: all the science on the show is real. The creators know that their audience includes people whose eyes glaze over every time the science speak starts, but they still go that extra mile – and you do the same with everything you do. You always work under the assumption that your employees and customers are watching and holding you accountable for every move you make, even if they don’t thank you every time you do something.
- You’re Confident – Sheldon knows he’s always right and has the confidence to tell everyone so. Out in the real world, you have the confidence to try new things and believe that you’re usually right, but you also have the humanity and self-esteem to be able to accept when someone tells you that you’ve done something wrong; you know we all need to make mistakes in order to learn.
- You Know How to Handle Personnel Changes – The show started with the four guys, then they met the girls, and now two of them are married to those girls - and when Howard left for the space station, they even found a temporary replacement for him. You know that staff changes are inevitable for a number of reasons, and every new staff member is always made to feel like a welcome member of your family who knows they will quickly be incorporated into your opening credits.
Did you realize that the idea for your business strategy was inspired by watching television? No matter how creative the show, they’re always founded in reality; even the fantastical Game of Thrones still consists of real people – leaders and otherwise – doing everyday things to succeed and reach positions of power. Teachers around the world are always being reminded to make their lessons fun, so why shouldn’t you get a few ideas from sitting back with your favorite show?
Do you relate to any of these shows? Is there a show that you think suits you better? Let us know in the comments below, and then go and watch whichever one of these you haven’t watched (in the name of research, of course)!