A Leadership Lesson from the Mother of Dragons
“You do not owe me your freedom. I could not give it to you. Your freedom is not mine to give. It belongs to you and you alone. If you want it back you must take it for yourselves. Each and every one of you.”
- Daenerys, Stormborn of House Targaryen
You can find leadership inspiration just about anywhere.
I recently caught up on the third season of the tv show, Game of Thrones. I was really struck by the final scene, and how the character of Daenerys, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Mother of Dragons (among other titles) chose the first words she spoke to her new devotees. [Spoiler alert? I don’t think so. If you are a fan of the show you know the Khaleesi is garnering forces to advance her goals. I don’t think I’m giving anything away.]
Back to the scene… even as she considers the city before her, Daenerys is conflicted as to whether she had conquered its inhabitants, who were enslaved, or had she liberated them? Upon an elevated podium, beside Daenerys and her posse, her assistant introduces her with her many titles and puts the crowd on notice with the statement, “It is to her you owe your freedom.” This is when Daenerys quickly sets things right.
There is total silence and then one man starts chanting, “Mother.” The crowd picks it up. She begins to walk into them and they literally embrace her, immediately and completely.
What humility, respect and inclusion get you.
No matter what you think of Game of Thrones or the character of Daenerys, that particular speech really made me think.
We sometimes put leaders on pedestals. We think they have power over us. We have to be reminded our destiny is our own. Our freedom and choices are our own.
Daenerys sets a clear tone with her words. The crowd envelops her, holds her high over their heads. She has taken a first step to earn their loyalty and their hearts and hands.
Now the real work begins.
As a leader, she will have to keep tabs on her effect on them, and the effect on her own ego. She will have to continue to behave in a way that consistently affirms to them they are their own persons.
When we look to others for leadership sometimes we need to be reminded of our own power, rather than believe our power lies in someone else.
As a leader, how do you keep people going all in the same direction and inspire personal empowerment at the same time?
Image: Pixabay member Geralt