This piece originally appeared on Quora: What are the best leadership lessons to learn from Game of Thrones?
1. “The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.”—Eddard Stark.
Don’t shy away from making tough calls. And just as importantly, do the unpleasant work to follow through. As Ned reminds us, “He who hides behind executioners soon forgets what death is.” Leaders who spend time in the trenches, doing the tough work, will take making tough decisions more seriously.
2. “A Lannister always pays his debts.”—Tyrion Lannister
In the workplace, the quickest way to lose respect, and power, is to promise things you can’t deliver. The surest way to get people to do things for you today, is for them to trust, that you will do what you say you will, in the future. Leaders follow through on their word. When they say they are going to do something, they do it.
3. “Any man who must say, I am the king, is no true king.”—Tywin Lannister
True power comes from where people believe it comes from. Not from where you say it comes from. The best leaders are followed based on the collective will, not because they say, “I am the boss.” Power and influence, often come from unexpected places.
4. “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.”—Littlefinger
Chaotic times reveal a leader’s strength. When times are good, it’s easy to be the leader. Only when chaos reigns, do many leaders rise. Effective leaders aren’t thwarted by challenges. They use challenges to foist them higher. As Littefinger, highlights: “Many who try to climb fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them.” Leaders are not broken. They continue to climb.
5. “Winter is coming.”—House Stark
Leaders remain vigilant. The world is uncertain. The best leaders always innovate, stay strong, and plan for the future. Being prepared for the unexpected is essential. Embrace winter, especially when everyone else is distracted and basking in the sun.
Mira Zaslove is a start-up and Fortune 500 manager in addition to being a top writer at Quora who has contributed to TIME, Inc., and BBC, among others. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.