HBO's hit show, A Game of Thrones, returned to television last night with its Season 5 premiere. Within this fantastical world of magic, dragons, giants, and ice zombies, there are some great lessons in leadership styles. The different rulers of the lands of Westeros all have very different styles of leadership, with varying degrees of sucess among them.
Using psychologist Kurt Lewin's Leadership Styles, we will be looking at three of the important leaders from A Game of Thrones and contrasting their leadership styles.
Delegative (Laissez-Faire) Leadership
King Robert Baratheon - Delegative leaders leave most of the decision making up to a group, a style which perfectly suited Robert Baratheon. Robert, once a feared warrior, had little to no interest in the governing of the kingdom once he was crowned. Leaving the majority of the realm's important decisions to his Small Council of advisors, Robert focused his attention on various revelries.
A delegative leadership style has benefits, especially when team members are skilled at their positions and are able to work independently. Team members feel free to make decisions and this leads to increased job satisfaction. The downfall of the delegative style happens when you have team members who are not able to set their own deadlines or manage their own projects. Or, in King Robert's case, when group members are not to be trusted and make decisions based soley on personal gain.
Tywin Lannister - The posterboy for the autocratic leadership style is Tywin Lannister, head of the Lannister household and twice over Hand of the King, the term for the King's top advisor, who is often looked to as the real leader of the realm. Autocratic leaders make most, if not all, decisions on their own, with very little input from team members.
This style of leadership is at its best when the leader is extremely knowledgeable about a situation, and when decisions need to be made quickly. With a set person in control of an overall project, team members can focus on their duties and their duties alone. As the head of the Lannister household, Tywin's team knew exactly what their individual positions and goals were. This benifitted the Lannisters greatly during periods of war, as Tywin was an excellent military leader and tactician.
Tywin's authoritative style worked well for the most part, but some important members of his team, especially his children, often felt manipulated and unimportant. This is the downfall of the autocratic leader, when group members start to view the leader as bossy and controlling. The group members can become rebelious, which can, in Tywin Lannister's case, lead to a huge spoiler alert. (Really, that is a big spoiler, so don't click it unless you are fully prepared to do so.)
Daenerys Targaryen - Being thrust into a leadership role at a young age, Daenerys Targaryen relied on the tactics of the democratic leader. This style of leadership encourages team members to share advice and opinions, leading the team members to feel more engaged in the decision making process. As the leader, Daenerys would weigh the opinions of her trusted advisors while pondering her decisions.
A democratic leadership can run into problems when the leader has team members in roles they are not suited for. Daenerys did a good job (for the most part) of surrounding herself with people who were experts in their fields. It is also important for a democratic leader to appear strong and confident when making decisions. This was something Daenerys did masterfully, and being surrounded by dragons only helped that image.
Each of these leadership styles has pros and cons. Depending on your personality, and your team, each can be used to your advantage. The key is knowing when each style is appropriate.