Are You Captivated by the Leadership in Game of Thrones?

Say no more. As a woman, as a coach, and as a student of leadership, I have always been puzzled by the collective fascination with such a violent series. Beyond the huge investment in historical sets, highly worked aesthetics, original plots and -let’s not be innocent- in-depth and extensive sexual content, its capacity to captivate executives and politicians of high intellectual level is quite ironic.

One aspiring minister even boasts of giving a season of the series to a national leader. Tell me what series you would give and I’ll tell you who you are, right?

The problem with the leadership models of Game of Thrones is their enormous destructiveness. It reduces leadership to its most successful qualities, such as being the best warrior, or having an enviable family reputation and legacy, or simply having the money and resources to win a battle by crushing your poor opponent without enough men, or dragons!

When we identify leadership with triumphalism we end up voting for men – yes, especially men – like Trump, Putin, Berlusconi, Boris Johnson, or Cristina Fernández Kirchner, to name a woman with similar qualities. If you win at all costs, whatever the cost, when we escalate to this, our countries end up in the hands of hyper-alpha males: the bigger the better.

In contrast, StarWars defined other nobler and much broader models of leadership. Yoda, the two-foot teacher with green skin and huge pointed ears, spoke much more as a coach, or spiritual guide, than any of the lying, cheating, and manipulative advisors of Game of Thrones. The aspirations of the protagonists of StarWars were less material and more human … justice, truth, self-questioning, and most interesting to me: the proportional use of “The Force.” The bigger the use, the heavier the fall.

Indeed, Game of Thrones creates heroic and noble of heart characters, and fighters that are brave and nonconformist. The problem is that it then destroys or completely perverts such characters in favor of larger audiences. Tell all the poor parents who named their daughters Daenerys!

In their most simplified version, the eight seasons of Game of Thrones offer us rivalries and endless competitions towards a single material goal: a throne full of knives. Even the vast majority of heroines in the series are essentially alpha males. They rule because they can, not because they deserve it. They take many risks, destroy and kill left and right, and well, I prefer not to enter into their sexual preferences, but those very far from romantic intimacy or vulnerability and unconditional delivery.

The Lives of Natives

Now let’s remember the enduring Star Wars movies, the Jedi and their dedication to the duty of The Force. Its simplicity, its austere attire and the lives of brave natives who do not care about money or power.

«Concentrate on the moment. Feel, do not think, use your instinct» and «Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into The Force», are StarWars phrases honored and remembered by millions of fans, as this Esquire article reminds us. Even the evocative romanticism of «I am a prisoner of the kiss you should never have given me» speaks to us about leaders who love, suffer, become vulnerable, or indulge in a passion that overflows them.

They are leaders who do not fight to win, but instead to serve, improve the lives of their followers, and challenge themselves endlessly. Competition with others serves to demonstrate to yourself what you still have to train more than anything else. This idea of The ​​Force as a superior or intelligent entity that can not be dominated or exploited for one’s own benefit is constantly present. It is something intangible, difficult to perceive, and only within reach of the truly noble of heart.

In Star Wars the women leaders do not sleep with their brother, they do not cheat on their husband, they do not manipulate their daughter savagely, nor do they engage in manipulative and perverse games with envious, twisted nuns. The women of Game of Thrones are the least like real women that I’ve seen in a long time!

In times of war, invasion and conquest, hyper-alpha males are very efficient to maximize objectives. But considering that we are trying to live more peacefully and put less burden on the planet, we should consider leadership models that are more emotional, spiritual, and comfortable with their female side. In the meantime, “may the force be with us!”


 

Pino Bethencourt 
Coach and founder of the Club Comprometidos