4 Leadership Lessons From The Night King

Night King

The Night King was one of the most interesting characters in the Game of Thrones. Of course, I can’t say I condone everything he did. For instance, I don’t subscribe to his attrition strategy. It was way too Stalinists for my taste. Yet I must admit that his leadership style deserves a closer look.

1. Never neglect your health

This may seem surprising. At first glance, his crowd was not exactly a walking testament of the quality dental plans they have in the north. Nor any other health plans for that matter. Obviously, dermatology was not very advanced in that area either.

On the other hand, they have lived for circa 8000 years, which is a remarkable life expectancy. Also, they were by far the skinniest army in Westeros. I have always called their man The Fitness King, if not King of Nordic Walking. They’ve been walking for eight years straight! This is the second best Nordic Walking workout ever, just after the one Moses organized for his people. Although, technically it was more of a Middle Eastern Walking.

The Night Army was ripped differently than the Dothraki, but as we’ve learned on the Long Night episode, looks are not everything.

Long walks and occasional sprints, on the other hand, go a long way.

2. Crush walls that separate people

The Night King’s greatest achievement was uniting people of all races, giants and even a dragon and making a great team out of them. Westeros is full of walls, metaphorical and literal ones. The Westerosi despise foreigners such as Dothraki, Lannisters hate Targeryans, and everyone hates Nordlings.

The Night King was not racist at all. Even though the name White Walkers sound a bit skinhead-ish.

Of course, he was not very keen on those who had a pulse, but no one is perfect. I’m not idolizing him. I am simply stating that he was onto something. If only he could include the warm ones…

Bottom line, teambuilding! Make the dragon developer believe in working with the giant developer on something bigger than both of them.

3. Find value in people others would consider useless

Everyone has value. The best managers build teams on people’s strong sides. They water the plants of goodwill, give autonomy, nourish the need to grow as a person. There are synergetic opportunities everywhere, but only the best leaders can build something out of it.

Never give up on your people. You can turn your biggest slackers into high performers if only you can find the right lever. Archimedes famously said, give me the place to stand, and I shall move the world.

4. PR is no substitute for competence

Certainly, The Night King is not the kind that dominates the conversation. Or have one. On the other hand, he’s accomplished a lot. In today’s world of neverending noise, this is something worth pondering.

There are way too many people these days that are all about PR, but underneath they don’t have much to offer. My interview strategy was always about finding out what is really behind those nice CV statements. In all other walks of life, always look at what people actually do. If what they say is consistent, that’s great. The opposite seems to be the default for humans though.

The King of Nordic Walking did not advertise his spear throwing skill, his Top Gun level air combat capability, his Bran tracking system, his wireless Dead To Dead Transfer Protocol telepathy nor the capability to hack this Westeros Counter-Strike Deathmatch by respawning the dead as his own people. He just did those things.

At least, until a girl broke his heart.

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