#WinterIsHere. For all those of us who have obsessed over the saga called ‘A Song of Ice And Fire’ and it’s derivative show, Games Of Thrones, it’s a sense of homecoming – a time when a year’s wait and tons of theories can be put to rest, when we collectively anguish, sigh and rage over the trials that our favourite and even abhorred characters go through.
And on my day job, I wonder… how would these characters fare if they existed on Earth, in our everyday work lives and shoes – instead of this part-fantasy and the part-medieval world of George RR Martin’s creation – far, far away on Westeros, on a partially revealed map of Planetos. Cut away from their lives constructed from privilege (for some), hardship (for the others), dragons, slave lords, wights and an elusive, unknown evil from the far, far north.
So, without further ado, here are 7 characters from the world of Game of Thrones who can live and bloom with successful management careers.
Note: These are people who have had some managerial experience in the series and is based on how they fared there.
1. Tyrion Lannister
That’s a no-brainer. Peter Dinklage’s emotive performance as everyone’s favourite scarlet dwarf, wronged by fate, despised by his own family and shunned because of his physical appearance did not have a good time in either book or on screen. Yet, his rise to the top from every curveball that life throws at him is what is the most interesting thing about him.
Without getting too much into the spoiler domain, the situations that he has faced have ensured that he remains on a strong survival note in a world with a high and bloody body count. The skills he brings to the table (possibly as an HR manager) include a strong sense of empathy, moulding individual motivations to a collective goal. He keeps asking everyone – what do you want (and moulds their answer to get them to do what he wants).
His other redeeming values? Genuine compassion towards others, a strong dose of realism and making the best out of every situation. As a dwarf outsider, under the perceived veil of being an entitled drunk, he takes every chance to show the world a true light (clear communication skills, anyone?)- proving one thing.
And we come to Spider himself – Lord Varys.
Lord Varys is a perplexing story in himself. A poor boy from Lyse, who was thrown to die on the streets, rose from the lowest point in his life to become an astute strategist and political manipulator on the high council of whichever king sits on the Iron Throne (he has served three kings already). How?
Varys answers the question himself:
In real life, Varys can head a team of analysts or strategists or even work behind-the-scenes, in an information based body (or the CIA).
Restricting myself only to his management skills, he has efficiently maintained a network of spies that is spread across two continents, while pursuing a hidden agenda. That’s a strong dose of people management, apart from people reading and perception. He has maintained his position amid a sea of the entitled nobility, never forgetting his roots or the fact that few of them would consider the problems of the many (realistic outlook). And the most important one – genuinely understanding the importance of communication and using information as a commodity.
3. Mance Rayder:
The King Beyond the Wall is a figure born and borne from a harsh climate, strongly independent roots. His management skills are a testament to themselves – combining all Wildling tribes, the Free Folk north of the towering wall.
Rejecting the ‘Southern’ feudal society, these tribes (including moon-worshippers, cannibals and even giants) refuse to kneel or bow to any united society, choosing a roughly-hewn form of democracy and free expression instead. And Mance Rayder, as an able tactician brought them all together – using reason, brute force, politics and even brawls to do what was needed.
His other redeeming values? He acknowledges the strengths and weaknesses of his people, is motivated by their well-being and even prepared to take risks (solo travels to Winterfell anyone?) to personally assess the competition).
Mercy-killed on the show by Snow, Mance may still be out in the woods in the books (#Hoping). He could be a contract negotiator or handling large-scale unions in real life.
4. Tywin Lannister:
Cold, calculative and near brutal in his approach, this Machiavelli from Westeros is a tough cookie to judge for a real-life managerial position. I still choose him for a senior management role in an MNC and this is why.
Even when you remove the Lannister title and noble birth from the Lion of Lannister, Tywin’s character has had to cut his way across a sea of ineptitude (left by his father), rebelling vassal lords and the lack of a strong administration, through sheer grit, wills and an astute, clear mind. His focus on the larger objective (maintaining the power of his house) meant several brutal decisions – but what you can’t forget is his complete control on all situations.
He was able to keep abreast with the governance of the seven kingdoms (bringing down three rebellions), negotiate alliances and underhanded deals with ease and lead wins from the rear.
5. Margaery Tyrell:
‘The Queen’, that this descendant of the Queen of Thrones hoped to be was a journey not meant for the meek or the weak, considering that her competition was with Cersei Lannister. However, she did put up a good fight till she was eclipsed by the ghoulish green explosion.
An approachable leader (with an open, breezy image), a classic manipulator, Margaery showed her winning qualities in the face of adversity – making the best of her circumstances and smoothly removing herself from her sticky situation. (She even tried hard for her brother). Though coming from a privileged noble house did have its advantages, her strong perception skills were an asset that came from no one else, but herself.
In real life, she would shine as a marketing manager.
6. Yara Greyjoy
In a deeply feudal society, with type-cast gender roles, few can imagine that women could come on top. Those few have probably not met this exception to the rule – Yara Greyjoy, who is a fast candidate for the salt throne of the Iron Islands.
Nearly crowned the leader at a King’s moot held amid these Viking-esque people (who relegate women to be the spoils of raids – salt wives), Yara Greyjoy fought against the odds and attitudes to rise to this position – even leading Iron Men fleets.
Brutally honest and strong towards her convictions, Yara is ready to lead men into raids and battles, without being foolhardy about it. Her scenes from the books (where she is Asha) show a clear rapport with her people and an interest in bringing peace to them. She also plays a realistic mentor to her little brother, breaking him out of a self-pity streak after his torturous imprisonment by the Boltons.
Operations and Tasks is where this lady would lead the roost.
7. Jon Snow:
Azor Ahai, anyone? Personally, I’m a bit on the fence for Jon Snow as a manager in real life, because of his fatal flaws. However, he does make a case for a visionary manager, investing time and effort in team and their employability skills.
Groomed for command, Jon’s willingness to stand for the meekest members of his team is commendable. He also strives at thinking on his feet, beyond the bonds of his situation and utilising every resource that comes his way. True to his code of ethics, he believes in fair chances for all and won’t leave his team behind for individual recognition.
As a manager, however, he would suffer from a lack of strong communication skills (Ollie needed a better pitch), a headstrong approach and extremely ingrained principles vs realism (they got his ‘dad’ Ned Stark killed too).
Handling tech, executive or operations teams could work for him.
Did we get them right? Have another name that can be added to this list? Drop it in our comments section below. And as you wait out these last couple of days ahead of Season 7 – remember this tenet – all good entertainment is good because it connects with us and shows us a mirror. How does yours look to you?