6 spoiler-free business lessons to take from Game of Thrones

It’s not all stabbing people in the back

Game of Thrones fans caught the first episode of season four of the award-winning TV series last night.

The fantasy drama is famously brutal and political, with fans lauding the numerous and frequent unexpected deaths. In fact, in Game of Thrones, even the most popular characters aren’t safe from the chopping black – literally, in Ned Stark’s case.

In among the naked women and gruesome deaths, we’ve gleaned seven important business lessons, and here they are (with no season four spoilers):

1. Nurture your talents

Game of Thrones

Daenerys Targaryen is given three dragon eggs at the beginning of the story, and hatched them, looking after them when they were small. Despite being offered all sorts of things in exchange for them, the Khaleesi manages to keep hold of her coveted pets and now they’re becoming pretty big dragons capable of defending her.

The lesson: Nurture your unique talents and they could pay dividends when you need them later.

2. Don’t underestimate people

Game of Thrones

Everyone loves an underdog, and Game of Thrones certainly isn’t short of them. One thing that regularly gets the better of some of the more smug characters is being proven wrong - often at their own expense. In season two we’re introduced to highly-skilled female warrior Brienne of Tarth, who repeatedly proves herself against the most skilled swordsmen who underestimate her.

Meanwhile, Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf who is largely unsupported and ignored by his family, uses his superior intellect to almost single-handedly win a battle with a ship full of explosives.

The lesson: Underestimate people at your peril. Take people only on their abilities and results.

3. Women are just as good (or bad) as men

Game of Thrones

Part of the reason for Game of Thrones’ success is the realistic portrayals of the series’ female characters.

To the audience’s satisfaction, we quickly learn the women are as scheming and callous as the men, as characters such as Cersei Lannister, Margaery Tyrell and Catelyn Stark are often the ones pulling the strings behind the scenes. Other strong women such as Brienne, Ygritte and Arya Stark are handy with weapons.

They can also be capable, powerful leaders, in the case of Daenerys Targaryen.

The lesson: Women and men’s personalities are not as different as we might think, and women can be just as capable in roles that are traditionally dominated by men.

4. Break the mould

Game of Thrones

Little Arya Stark is forced to pretend she is taking dancing lessons, because that is what is expected of a young woman, instead of revealing she’s learning swordfighting. The youngest daughter of Ned and Catelyn disguises herself as a boy and escapes from the Lannisters, while her sister Sansa is taken prisoner. Her talent wielding a sword gets her out of a few scrapes too.

The lesson: Do what you want to do, not what everyone else is doing.

5. Don’t neglect your networks

Game of Thrones

Robb Stark makes a few fatal errors in the lead up to his death at the Red Wedding. Failing to keep on friendly terms with other northern families, such as the Greyjoys and the Baratheons, means he loses important support. However, it’s really two terrible decisions that crush support for Robb and the Stark family. He loses support from the Karstarks after executing their leader Lord Rickard and dies at the hands of the Freys after earlier going back on a promise to marry one of them.

The lesson: Maintain good relationships with people. Perhaps you don’t need them now, but you might later.

6. Don’t jump to a decision

Game of Thrones

Sansa Stark (absolutely nobody’s favourite character) hadn’t had an easy ride. Every time it looks like something good might finally happen, it just gets worse - cue more moping. In season three, Sansa thinks she might actually get what she wants for a change, after Margaery promises she could marry Loras Tyrell, but instead she’s wed to Tyrion Lannister. If only she’d sailed away from Kings Landing with Littlefinger when she had the chance. 

The lesson: Think carefully about each opportunity that presents itself before making a decision.

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