5 Great Career Lessons from Game of Thrones

Form alliances at work that will catapult you to the “iron throne” of corporate success (and put you in impeccably tailored badass suits). Er, just watch for the Jon Snows, Varyses, and Tyrions
Image from IMDB

Winter has come — to an end. Whether you’ve been a fan since the first season aired in 2011 or you’ve only recently gotten the Thrones fever, there’s no doubt that “Game of Thrones” has made an impact on our lives. No spoilers here in case you haven’t seen the final episode yet, but until the end, the stakes—and the death toll — were high.

If reports from US-based Kronos Incorporated were anything to go by, it seems like the workplace absences during and following the season 8 finale of “Game of Thrones” were just as high. About 27.2 million U.S. employees were expected to watch the finale, and 10.7 million of them say they will skip work to cope with the aftermath of the show.

Honestly, we don’t blame you guys.

But now that the show is over, we can start pondering about the lessons “Game of Thrones” taught us throughout the years. Since we’re previously on the subject of workplace productivity, why not focus on career lessons we can learn from our favorites and not-so-favorites from the show?

Make smart alliances

“Game of Thrones” is full of backstabbers. Everyone has their agenda, so it’s hard to find people our favorite characters can trust. Look at where Jon Snow’s trust in his brothers in the Night’s Watch led him: stabbed and left to bleed to death. Sansa’s trust in Littlefinger led to her marriage to an abusive Ramsay Bolton.

On the other hand, there are also people like Daenerys, who has made great alliances. She allied with people who have proven trustworthy, such as Missandei, Grey Worm, and Ser Jorah Mormont. Throughout her journey to claiming the Iron Throne, these people have been her advisers, protectors, and supporters.

When it comes to your professional network, make sure to form strong alliances with people who can help you and your career. When you’re working with a team of people who complement each other’s strengths, you have a greater chance of success in your chosen field.

Be more adaptable, but learn to stand your ground

The Stark sisters, Sansa and Arya, had their lives thrown upside down multiple times in the show. One was engaged to a masochist, married to a rapist, and almost killed hundreds of times. The other witnessed her father’s death, served an enemy, and became no one. In all of those instances, the Stark sisters managed to adapt and survive, ending up stronger than ever.

In the workplace, you might be given tasks that you’re unfamiliar with or thrust into bizarre situations. In times like these, you need to quickly adapt so you can keep up with the tasks you’re supposed to accomplish. And remember, adaptability doesn’t mean simply going with the flow. Instead, you should remain steadfast in the face of these challenges.

Fight for what you deserve

In Westeros, if you want something, you have to work for it because no one’s going to do it for you. Littlefinger was constantly scheming to put people in places that would best benefit his interests. Daenerys wanted an armada to command when she crossed the Narrow Sea to King’s Landing, so she earned the loyalty of the Dothraki and freed the Unsullied from their slavers.

Your career track is similar. Although it’s smart to surround yourself with people who can make you a better employee, it’s not up to them to make the case for why you deserve a raise or promotion. If you believe that you deserve some kind of compensation at work, gather evidence as to why and ask for it. Just leave the fire and blood out of it.

Let go of past conflicts

What’s a workplace without some drama, right? Whether it stemmed from office gossip or rivalry, workplace conflicts are sometimes inevitable. Lots of “Game of Thrones” characters experienced the same thing. For example, we have Dany hell-bent on taking the throne from the family that murdered hers, as well as Arya’s kill list. These two can certainly hold a grudge.

You know who doesn’t?

Jon “he-who-knows-nothing” Snow. His let-it-go attitude was most evident when he bent the knee to Daenerys. Jon grew up thinking he’s a Stark bastard.  He knew the bloody history between his family and the Targaryens, how Dany’s Mad King dad killed Ned’s father and older brother. But he bent the knee and swore fealty to her. He did it because it had to be done — and because, as he said in the seventh season, “Yesterday’s wars don’t matter anymore.”

This is an important lesson for anyone who has an archenemy at the office. You will only waste precious time on bitterness and hate if you keep it up. But, if you let go of whatever the cause of the conflict was, you’ll be able to focus on getting better and working together.

Finally, be a “dragon”

“Are you a sheep?” Olenna Tyrell asks Daenerys. “No. You’re a dragon. Be a dragon.” This piece of advice is especially important to women in the workplace today. We’ve come so far from the patriarchal rule of decades past, but women still have to deal with BS in the workplace.

Being a dragon doesn’t mean being awful and terrifying, though. Dragons are strong, majestic creatures that are able to surmount every obstacle and reach great heights. So in the workplace, and out of it, be a dragon.

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