Leadership: Game of Thrones Style

Esteban Gomez | May 14, 2014

The popular HBO series “Game of Thrones” teaches invaluable lessons about family tradition, wolves, love, treachery and just about everything else that can be squeezed into 60 minutes. There are lessons to be learned from its plot, the choices characters make and especially the leadership displayed throughout Westeros, Across the Narrow Sea and North of The Wall. At this point you may be wondering if this has anything to do with talent management and if I’m going to spoil anything for you. The answers are YES and NO, respectively.

Think about all of the bosses you’ve ever had. My guess is you’ve unconsciously ranked them in your mind ranging from truly fantastic to possibly even truly terrible. As an employee, management style directly influences the choices and decisions you make throughout your day, so it makes sense that your mind may unconsciously rank the best and worst leadership you’ve experienced.

Interestingly, an issue that often comes up on Ask a Manager is lack of awareness from upper management when it comes to just how effective certain leadership styles may actually be. So, in an effort to help promote awareness, let’s break down different types of leadership styles based on characters from Game of Thrones.


Think of everything you hate about spoiled kids and multiply it by infinity. Now, give them all the power in the world and a sick, twisted mind. That’s Joffrey. Rules by telling everyone he is the king and will have his way. Ineffective.


Sinister. Merciless. Effective strategist no matter what it takes. Uses wealth and power to intimidate.


Vindictive. Cold-hearted. Selfish. Not someone you’d necessarily want in a leadership position.


Fair and balanced. Deals swift punishment when necessary. Leads by example and has the respect and loyalty of his people. Believes in justice.


Power hungry. Cold, but can be forgiving. Leads his army into battle on the front lines. Easily seduced and brainwashed by sorcery.


Naive, but always wants to do the right thing for her people. Strong and confident but sometimes too trustworthy of others.


Lets his Small Council do most of the decision-making. Would rather be hunting or drinking.


As a talent management leader, you don’t want to be too far on either side of this list. While reading through it, I’m sure you had some bosses pop into your head – I know I did – and you should ask yourself, “If my employees did this exercise, whom would they compare me to?” Don’t be afraid to ask yourself whose leadership style you think yours matches up to – and be honest about it.

Hiring managers, recruiters, and all levels of management in HR are constantly evaluating others and trying to make the pieces of the puzzle fit the right way. However, if individuals never take the time to reflect on their own performance and effectiveness, they may be limiting their own professional growth. It’s not always easy to get an honest review of your performance from your employees, but remember – if you overhear any of them whispering about King Joffrey over there in his nice office, it’s not a good thing.

About The Author

Esteban Gomez is a marketing consultant with interviewstream. He loves learning and has a passion for traveling, having visited many countries including China, Colombia, Italy, and Peru.


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