World Monitor Magazine, Economy WM_April 2019 web version (2) - Page 68

additional content against the king and against Ned’s predecessor, Jon Arryn. From Varys’s perspective, this warning is an act of courage, duty, and honor. But Ned Stark doesn’t see it that way; he understands those values only if they are presented in a way similar to his own behavior. If Varys were acting with courage and honor, Ned believes, he wouldn’t sneak into Ned’s room in disguise. Meanwhile, Ned misreads Cersei’s reactions to him, assuming that her values hierarchy holds family as primary. He fails to understand the way her values contribute to her leadership choices. She assigns superiority, power, and courage even more importance than family. Moreover, Cersei doesn’t consider her husband, the king, to be part of her family. This is an important distinction that Ned doesn’t see until it is too late. Finally, Cersei doesn’t give a damn about Ned’s priority of honor. If she cared, then she would retreat: take her children “as far as the wind blows,” to save them from Robert’s wrath when Ned exposes their illegitimacy. Instead, Cersei replies: “And what of my wrath, Lord Stark?” Ned’s error in misperceiving Cersei — especially her belief in her own power and superiority — sets in motion the tragedy that follows, including his own beheading. This story provides a powerful reminder that the pressures of day-to-day leadership can trigger conflict between colleagues, even if they have been through strong mutual experiences, feel extensive mutual goodwill, trust one another, and have common goals. If we make assumptions about personal values, we can make devastating mistakes. For example, if we assume other people need to prioritize their values in the order we prefer, we can deceive ourselves about other people’s true motivations, blind ourselves to risk, and damage the partnerships we need. It is thus important that we, as leaders, search for clarity about the values of our allies and competitors. What more might Ned have learned from Lord Varys if he had taken the time to ask and listen? What if he had tried to understand Queen Cersei’s motivations before assuming she would shiver in fear at his threat, weep thankfully at his offer to save her children, and flee the capital? Use your values as a map of what is internally important to you, and don’t fall into the trap of assuming that the same values motivate your colleagues and competitors. Keep your head where it can be a resource, not tarred on a stake above the Red Keep. Jon Snow’s persuasion challenge In season five of the TV series, Lord Commander Jon Snow — the leader of the Night’s Watch fraternal order, which 66 world monitor guards the 700-foot-high ice wall that spans the northern end of Westeros — must make a decision that has no easy solution. After many long years of dormancy, a group of supernatural “others” have reappeared beyond the wall, with the ability to reanimate the dead and turn them into zombie-like wights. Their first victims are the self- professed free folk (or “wildlings”) who live on the other side of the wall, and who have been fierce enemies of the Night’s Watch for more than 1,000 years. Should Jon strike a mutual protection deal with free folk, letting them move behind the wall and joining forces with them? This will be extremely difficult for many members of the Night’s Watch; only recently, the wildlings fought bitterly with them, killed their friends, and massacred nearby communities — including some Night’s Watch members’ families. But the alternative would be worse. If the wildlings fall to the others, they will become part of the opposing army, and eventually the Night’s Watch —