Maybe because it’s 2016. Or maybe because the show’s brutal mistreatment of girls and women demanded a re-think. Either way, the male-female power imbalance on Game of Thrones has been corrected. And then some.
WARNING: EXTREME SPOILER ALERT
Season 6 culminates with Cersei on the Iron Throne; Daenyers and Yara setting sail to conquer The Seven Kingdoms; Arya turning down a bright future in Braavos to take her hard-won job skills on the road, and Sansa weighing which of two male allies will better serve her leadership agenda.
Cersei’s ability to play the long game and Daenerys’ willingness to empower strong women are winning career strategies for sure. But it’s the quieter lessons from the show’s emerging female leaders that intrigue me most:
SANSA: The path to success is a jungle gym, not a ladder. Although fans are expressing dismay that Sansa would even contemplate a marriage proposal from Lord Baelish, perhaps she’s simply taking the view that there’s more than one way to the top. As Sheryl Sandberg explains in Lean In: it’s wise to consider positions in emerging fields with advancement opportunities, even if they seem less prestigious at the time.
ARYA: Align your work with your values. Following a grueling apprenticeship, Arya is offered the coveted position of Girl With No Name. To the surprise of her mentor, the Faceless Man, she turns it down and strikes out for Westeros solo. How come? Because no perk or promotion can compete with the magnetic pull of her personal mission: Avenge. My. Family. Want job satisfaction? Take a cue from Arya (and leadership guru Simon Sinek) and know your Why. When you identify and pursue your purpose, success will follow.
LADY MORMONT: Don’t seek the approval of the men you want to impress. In a male-dominated meeting, she who fishes for affirmation is unlikely to get it. How does young Lady Mormont convince a divided room of soldiers to throw their support behind Jon Snow? With a communication style that leaves no room for doubt. She does not lift her voice at the end of her sentences. She does not use weakening phrases like I could be wrong or does that make any sense? Direct and on point, Lady Mormont’s speech ends with a kick-ass call to action: The North remembers. The girl is a natural born closer.