I’m a junkie for Game of Thrones. A late adopter to HBO’s highest rated series, my household went through a bingefest of the first 4 seasons last summer and we were hooked. The season finale was no exception.
As a fan of Jon Snow, while there is so much disappointment at his death, there is so very much to be learned from his leadership. Jon was a solid guy whose heart was in the right place as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, however he made critical mistakes that led to his unfortunate demise. So if you lead with good decision making in your own mind, take a clue from what not to do from Jon.
- Alienating your team is not a success strategy – While Jon truly believed in setting a blazing trail to defeat the White Walkers, his agenda had little to no support (Sam was most likely the only one who was behind him. And you think Jon would have gotten a clue after Olly, Jon’s steward, whose parents were killed and eaten by Wildlings last season was horrified at Jon’s decision). As a leader, when you set the agenda and 1 or no people are behind you, that might be a clue to shift your thinking, strategy or positioning. Consider this…after you make your heroic decision, who is going to sustain your thinking? If the answer is no one, shift your idea and fast.
- A lack of a “what’s next” strategy can lead to disaster – When Jon introduced the wild and crazy strategy of forming an alliance with the Wildlings to go pursue the White Walkers, his folks were not on board at all. Jon was so focused on carrying out his initial strategy that he never thought about what would happen when he returned. Jon’s people were so enraged with his decision they killed him. As a leader although you may get a genius idea deep in your gut you must purse and you still have to think about what’s next. If hardly anyone is on board now, how will they be once the idea is executed? How will you rally people back when there is such an avalanche of dissent?
- Focusing on the big picture while ignoring the small messy details is not a solid leadership strategy – Jon was so focused on defeating the White Walkers that he underestimated how absolutely horrified his people were at his decision to go fight them, especially with the perceived enemy of his people. Leadership lives in duality – setting the vision while overseeing the smallest of details; ensuring the CEO and the Board is happy with progress while ensuring your employees on the front lines are delighted in their work; firing people and hiring new talent simultaneously to fill the same job. If you ignore one detail, others have the potential to fall apart.
Although leadership may seem like a complex web of intricacies, a few simple rules still apply – keep your people happy; manage up, down and across; a unified team is critical to making anything happen; the big and small picture are equally critical; buy-in is vital, especially from key people; and make sure when you go after the bad guys there is enough support from your home team to welcome you back with open arms.