The long-awaited finale of Game of Thrones is coming. And while in Westeros, your communication style may not ultimately determine your fate, in the real world we know that how an organization’s leader (or prospective leader) speaks to their audience does in fact matter.
If we were evaluating them as professional communicators, how do the prospective winners of the Iron Throne stack up?
The eldest Lannister, Queen Cersei has ruled the Seven Kingdoms before, and she’ll do everything in her power to rule again. She wants to be in charge, she wants to be the leader. She makes it clear that it’s all about her and not the people she rules over. Say what you will about her communication style, but she is definitely transparent. She is ruthless, cold, ambitious and completely self-interested. Of all the houses, House Lannister did the best job with branding (everyone knows that a Lannister always pays his debts) – and everyone knows what Cersei’s brand is.
An unpredictable rebel, as a communicator, Euron is a master manipulator. Like Cersei, he is known for being cunning and cruel. However, he’s able to easily gain a following, consisting mostly of outsiders, because he is willing to say whatever they want to hear. He will switch allegiances without a second thought if he thinks it will get him a step closer to the Iron Throne.
Officially the eldest child, Sansa now controls the legacy of House Stark. She must deal with all of the baggage that comes with her family name, both good and bad, and try to honor her slain parents and siblings. As a communicator, she is trying to become more than just the latest face of the Stark brand-name, maintaining her family’s legacy while also developing her own identity. The Lady of Winterfell is more than just a princess waiting to be married off, she is taking real action to prove her abilities as a leader (just ask Littlefinger).
Daenerys Stormborn. Breaker of Chains. Khaleesi. Mother of Dragons. Any messaging expert would tell you that trying to brand yourself in too many different ways will confuse your audience on what your identity actually is. But when you’re the Dragon Queen, whose reputation proceeds her, it somehow works. Much like Sansa, Dany is trying to establish herself beyond the Targaryen name. From freeing the Unsullied to extending an offer to partner with Cersei to defeat the White Walkers, her messaging is all about building a team, helping those of all classes throughout each of the kingdoms, and being the queen of the people.
We all know the strong and silent type. Without saying a single word, the Night King can strike a sense of fear and panic into anyone who crosses his path, just by staring them down. We may not know who he is, but we know we fear him.
You know nothing, Jon Snow…. or do you? Jon Snow is the underdog, turned potential front-runner who appeals to his audience because he is relatable. As a communicator, you believe him when he speaks because he is the everyman – he’s just like you. He is also a thoughtful strategist, trying to develop a plan for the inevitable crisis. Winter IS coming.