There has been a big response to my first blog about “Game of Thrones” – it obviously struck a chord with readers, so I thought I’d continue the theme. If you missed part 1, read here https://www.shapingchange.com.au/blog/?p=17
So, let’s continue the leadership lessons with Eddard Stark. As appointed “Hand of the King”, Eddard and the Council run the kingdom while the King enjoys the rewards of his station. We see that Eddard is fiercely loyal, honourable and always believes in following his values or “doing what is right”.
Eddard finds himself in a royal court buzzing with intrigue and politics. Despite Eddard’s admirable qualities and values, he is way out of his depth. Eddard lacks the skill that would have likely prevented him from losing his head – political intelligence.
Research used by 3D Training & Development shows that over 70% or people who work in organisations associate “politics” with negative experiences. There are very few organisations where political behaviour is not present and it has a major impact on people – their careers, motivation, ability to do their jobs effectively etc.
Eddard was simply too trusting, to open and too merciful. When he discovered that the Queen had been consistently unfaithful and that none of her children were fathered by the King, Eddard confronted her and gave her the opportunity to flee with her children before he told the King. Before Eddard could see the King, the King was dead (gored by a boar, but likely assisted along by the Queen) and the Queen’s son Joffrey was crowned. Eddard confronted Joffrey and the Queen, confident that he was supported by key members of the council, but they all turned on him and he was beheaded for treason.
Eddard faced the very worst of political behaviour – deal making, lies, betrayals, conspiracies, backstabbing and ultimately destruction of those standing in the way. Sometimes organisational politics can feel very like this (without the actual beheading part). So can politics be positive? A report from Roffey Park Institute in 2004 found effective strategists, skilful influencers and powerful leaders use politics to achieve beneficial outcomes for others as well as themselves:
- To make things happen
- To unblock barriers to change
- To create greater buy in to key projects
- To produce greater organisational cohesion
- To speed up decision making
What are some of the characteristics of good political intelligence that might have saved Eddard? People with high political intelligence:
- Know where the power really lies.
- Understand that there are many long term benefits in keeping people on side.
- Are comfortable doing favours and asking for favours in return – the language of mutual benefit and collaboration.
- Realise that total openness may not be appropriate in all situations.
- Understand that things are not always black and white.
- Know it is important to pick the right time and he right place to deal with a difficult issue.
- Network very effectively and review their networks constantly.
So you can see that Eddard Stark might well have survived had he used some of these tactics.