Career Growth

10 Lessons from Game of Thrones That Will Get You Promoted

1. Don’t burn bridges before the war is over.
Working with people on massive projects can be tedious, frustrating, and difficult (both the projects and the people). Don’t be Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane in the Lannister’s struggle to protect King’s Landing against Stannis, who started drinking long before the fight was over thinking it was doomed. Little did he know Papa Lannister was on his way to save everyone and reclaim the victory. It’s tempting to give up and complain to your boss that working with them is impossible. Sticking it out, even if painful, makes you look professional, capable, and competent. Most likely, if the person or project is the worst, your boss knows it, and she assigned you for a reason. Show her you can handle it, and your cred goes up.

2. Take the opportunity to learn from everyone.

GOT shows how much lowly slaves, handmaidens, and even prostitutes can offer to even the most sophisticated characters. Offices are often just as hierarchical and cliquey, with as many stereotypes. Don’t think that you, as an entry-level office manager, cannot learn from a seasoned sales clerk or receptionist. Even the most experienced leader can learn something new every day. Be open to the unique value that each co-worker can provide, whether it’s pointing out troublemakers, helping you when you make mistakes, or making up for inadequate training. Not only will you be more in-tune with corporate culture, but you’ll also improve faster than another co-worker whose pride keeps them from asking questions.

3. Being a leader means more than intelligence, strength, courage, and kindness.

You cannot succeed as a leader and be solely good and kind (Ned Starks); powerful and heartless (Joffrey); or courageous, cunning, and intelligent (Tyrion). Successful and enduring leaders have one important quality above all others: the ability to connect. Queen Margaery demonstrated the far-reaching effect of extending her presence to the far and forgotten corners of the kingdom, generating what may become her strongest support system. Leaders exhibit qualities we desire, respect, and ultimately admire enough to follow. But leaders remain leaders because they connect with those followers on varying and genuine levels.

Leaders exhibit qualities we desire, respect, and ultimately admire enough to follow. But leaders remain leaders because they connect with those followers on varying and genuine levels.

Struggling to connect? Suggest taking your team out to lunch or coffee instead of the boardroom for your weekly meeting. Getting out of the office fosters a casual, congenial environment. Make it a point to meet with your team members individually to see how they’re doing, what struggles they’re going through, and what they’re too shy to tell you in front of their co-workers.

4. Don’t keep doing it because “that’s the way it’s always been done.”

Successful ladder-climbers don’t ever do something just because their predecessors did it that way. They question it, analyze it, contrast and compare it, and eventually determine whether they should toss it or improve it. Pick out a procedure that your company employs, and do some research. Find out what other companies are doing better or find a cheaper, more efficient start up to outsource a corporate service. Develop a game plan proposal, and present it to your boss. He’ll be impressed by your initiative and innovative thinking.

5. Earn respect, don’t expect it.

Don’t expect that you will be given kudos based on your new suit, your alma mater, or your previous company. Most of your co-workers won’t know or won’t care. Step up your effort, be attentive during meetings (even boring ones), be the first to arrive and the last to leave, and do your best work for every single person who gives you an assignment.

6.  Compartmentalize your weaknesses.
You will undoubtedly struggle with certain aspects of your job. Do not let these hurdles erode your confidence so that you lose your ability to function at work. Learn to move on from assignments that you tripped over, learn from them, and keep going. No one did it right the first time either. While it may be hard after a couple mistakes, keep working hard and putting in the same effort. Your supervisors will not lose respect for you if you’ve made a mistake, but they will lose respect if you let your weaknesses get the best of you.

7. Become an asset to your company.

Your boss won’t keep you or even consider you for a promotion unless they value both you and your work. How? Be a refreshing and diligent presence in the office. Always be available (If your boss asks a question at 5:55pm and you’re halfway out the door, answer it). Anticipate what your boss needs or wants, and get everything done on time (read: early). Volunteer for optional assignments. Offer to help co-workers with their workload when they take PTO, and volunteer to be on inter-departmental or extracurricular committees. In short, be indispensable.

8. Recognize your co-workers, interns, and others for their work.
Feeling appreciated leads to loyalty and continued good work. People are much more likely to work hard for someone who thanks them for each assignment and provides positive and constructive feedback when it’s warranted. Your co-workers will do the same. Give credit to your co-workers or interns when they have earned it. More often than not, they will do the same for you.

9. Be nice.
You should be nice to people anyway. But in the event you need an incentive to be nice, think about this. Everyone makes mistakes at work. All the time. If you’re generally liked, you won’t be crucified, you will be helped and supported. You never know who will turn out to be a fortuitous ally or mentor when you need it the most.

Take this real-world scenario: Asher is a top market analyst, but he berates new hires, pressures his compliance analysts to work faster, and sends nasty emails to outsourced IT personnel when they don’t put his technical issues first. When Asher gets called in to speak with HR for the first time for getting too rowdy at the company holiday party, HR calls at random 6 people to vouch for Asher’s behavior at work. Can you guess what those 6 people will say? Most will probably say Asher’s behavior is egregious and offensive. Any further complaints, even minor ones, might land Asher out of a job.

10. Don’t shove everything in your boss’s face.
Don’t cc your boss on all of your emails or notify him after every assignment is finished (unless of course he wants to be notified). Chances are, he already knows what you’re doing, when you finish it, and how well it was done. Throwing your work on his desk not only bombards him with unnecessary information, but it also makes you look desperate for attention. (Remember when Cersei asks her father why he never gave her more responsibility? He rudely tells her that she’s not as smart as she thinks she is.)

If you do your job well, your co-workers and your work will speak for you. If your boss doesn’t appear to get the point after several months, ask him for a status meeting to discuss your work progress and what you could be doing better.