4 Leadership Lessons to Learn from Jon Snow
With the Game of Thrones season 5 finale quickly approaching this weekend, let’s take some time to celebrate one of the show’s emerging leaders, Jon Snow. Winter has come and brought thousands of White Walkers with it, and Jon has proven that he has what it takes to lead the men of the Night’s Watch and the remaining wildlings in the coming fight for survival. You don’t have to be fighting for your life against the undead to benefit from these four leadership lessons:
- Create strategic partnerships: Although most of his men are against the idea of pairing up with the wildlings, Jon quickly sees that with the coming of winter and the White Walkers that the Night’s Watch needs reinforcements if they wish to stave off attack. He not only goes against popular opinion, but risks his life in going over the wall to ask for cooperation. Although the White Walker invasion put a damper on things (to put it mildly) he was still able to forge a successful alliance with his former enemies to fight for the greater good.
Leadership lesson: You can’t do it all yourself. A strategic partner can help fill in your weaknesses with their strengths.
- Work alongside your followers: In the battle against the White Walkers, Jon Snow doesn’t shrink from the front lines. Despite being wounded, he doesn’t leave the battlefield until he has killed one of the White Walker generals and gotten as many remaining wildlings into the safety of the boats as possible. He doesn’t lose himself in the weeds, however—he resumes his leadership position as soon as possible.
Leadership lesson: The best way to lead is by example. Work hard and others will work hard with you, but don’t forget that managing is still your number one job.
- Accept that you know nothing: Although Jon Snow has been elected Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, he is never above asking for advice, and taking it when he feels it’s effective. This season he learns about becoming a leader from allies like Maester Aemon and detractors like Ser Alliser Thorne alike.
Leadership lesson: Rely on the expertise of more experienced colleagues, as well as those closer to the front lines. Realize that being the leader doesn’t make you right.
- Be compassionate but firm: Jon Snow goes against orders by killing wildling leader Mance Rayder with an arrow so he wouldn’t have to endure being burned alive. He knows that Mance’s greatest fear is looking weak in front of his people and is kind enough to spare him this final indignity despite his unwillingness to yield to the king. However, Jon also beheads Night’s Watch member Janos Slynt for publicly refusing to obey his orders to rebuild Castle Greyguard in order to preserve his authority among a group of men that are often hard to control.
Leadership lesson: Show kindness whenever possible, but don’t let your followers take advantage of it.