Daenerys Targaryen. Game of Thrones protagonist and self-styled Dragon Mama. She is the ultimate people manager. OK, she might bang on too much about her goddamn dragons, and has an outrageous sense of birthright entitlement, but modern managers, even CEOs, could learn a great deal from her:
- The Kid aint no Micromanager. She freed the Unsullied slaves from Astapor—giving them the choice to leave on their own terms or follow her in her quest for the throne. In return, they committed to her (their emancipator) absolute loyalty. Don’t really see that happening to Alan Joyce.
- She is not afraid to terminate dead weight. In today’s workplace, there is the annoying tendency to “manage out” low performers and questionably ethical employees by way of retrenchment rather than termination. There are no red-tape redundancies for Daenerys, HELL NO. She facilitated Viserys’ death, and had her dragons massacre Kraznys mo Nakloz. But, you know, they were arseholes and getting really annoying.
- She leads by example and is a role model for a flexible workplace. The Mother of Dragons brings her babies to work every day, without any ambiguous workplace agreements “permitting” her to do so. Sure, the dragons are workplace allies (with killer breath) and lay down her megalomaniac foes, but I’m sure you could use kids to the same advantage. Gastro, anyone?
- She is cool under pressure. Daenerys doesn’t take no shit from nobody. And she’s not afraid to use a double negative if it serves her purpose. She has a goal (the Iron Throne) and will strategise and charm her way all the way to it, whilst protecting those who have committed to her.
- She will have your back. Being sexually discriminated against or bullied at work? Daenerys has your back, yo. Shocked by the treatment of the Dothraki slaves, she won them fair treatment, and we’ve already talked about her freeing 80,000 Unsullied minions. She sticks up for those in her army and those not in positions of power. But god help you if you are the bully. That can win you one hell of a negative performance appraisal—served up with a demotion and bubbling cap of skull-melting gold.
The best managers I’ve had are those who have ruled with a fist of iron for the boardroom and an open palm of mercy for their direct reports. Westeros may be a bloodthirsty den of sadism and double-crossing, but as CEO of her people, you can’t fault her.
And can you just imagine the on-site creches?